Purpose: Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common causes of disability and a prevalent chronic disease. The use of collagen is growing due to the satisfactory results in the treatment of OA. However, the possible beneficial effects of collagen for the treatment of OA are currently controversial. The aim of the present meta-analysis was to evaluate the effect of collagen-based supplements on OA symptoms.
Methods: PubMed-Medline, Scopus, and Google Scholar databases were searched for randomized placebo-controlled trials evaluating the effect of orally administered collagen on OA symptoms using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) scale and/or the Visual Analog Scale (VAS). Meta-analysis was conducted using a random-effects model and a generic inverse variance method. Heterogeneity was tested using the I2 statistic index.
Results: Collagen treatment showed a significant reduction in the score of total WOMAC index (WMD - 8.00; 95% CI - 13.04, - 2.95; p = 0.002). After subgroup analysis of the WOMAC subscores, the collagen supplementation revealed a significant decrease in the stiffness subscore (WMD - 0.41; 95% CI - 0.74, - 0.08; p = 0.01), whereas the pain (WMD - 0.22; 95% CI - 1.58, 1.13; p = 0.75) and functional limitation (WMD - 0.62; 95% CI - 5.77, 4.52; p = 0.81) subscores did not have significant differences. Finally, a significant reduction was found in the VAS score after collagen administration (WMD - 16.57; 95% CI - 26.24, - 6.89; p < 0.001).
Conclusion: The results of this meta-analysis showed that collagen is effective in improving OA symptoms by the decrease of both total WOMAC index and VAS score.
Keywords: Collagen supplementation; Meta-analysis; Osteoarthritis symptoms; Visual Analogue Scale; WOMAC index.