A Review of Collagen and Collagen-based Wound Dressings

Wounds. 2008 Dec;20(12):347-56.


Collagen is a key component of a healing wound. In this review, a general description of the wound healing process is provided focusing on collagen's unique role. The mode of action (MoA) of collagen-based dressings is also addressed. Due to a number of potential stimuli (local tissue ischemia, bioburden, necrotic tissue, repeated trauma, etc.), wounds can stall in the inflammatory phase contributing to the chronicity of the wound. One key component of chronic wounds is an elevated level of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). At elevated levels, MMPs not only degrade nonviable collagen but also viable collagen. In addition, fibroblasts in a chronic wound may not secrete tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs) at an adequate level to control the activity of MMPs. These events prevent the formation of the scaffold needed for cell migration and ultimately prevent the formation of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and granulation tissue. Collagen based wound dressings are uniquely suited to address the issue of elevated levels of MMPs by acting as a 'sacrificial substrate' in the wound. It has also been demonstrated that collagen breakdown products are chemotactic for a variety of cell types required for the formation of granulation tissue. In addition, collagen based dressings have the ability to absorb wound exudates and maintain a moist wound environment.