Collagen proteins are crucial components of the bone matrix. Since collagen-derived products are widely used in the food and supplement industry, one may raise the question whether collagen-enriched diets can provide benefits for the skeleton. In this study, we designed an innovative approach to investigate this question taking into account the metabolites that are formed by the digestive tract and appear in the circulation after ingestion of hydrolysed collagen. Blood samples collected in clinical and pre-clinical trials following ingestion and absorption of hydrolysed collagen were processed and applied on bone-related primary cell cultures. This original ex vivo methodology revealed that hydrolysed collagen-enriched serum had a direct impact on the behaviour of cells from both human and mouse origin that was not observed with controls (bovine serum albumin or hydrolysed casein-enriched serum). These ex vivo findings were fully in line with in vivo results obtained from a mouse model of post-menopausal osteoporosis. A significant reduction of bone loss was observed in mice supplemented with hydrolysed collagen compared to a control protein. Both the modulation of osteoblast and osteoclast activity observed upon incubation with human or mouse serum ex vivo and the attenuation of bone loss in vivo, clearly indicates that the benefits of hydrolysed collagen for osteoporosis prevention go beyond the effect of a simple protein supplementation.
Keywords: absorption; bone; collagen peptides; hydrolysed collagen; metabolites; nutrition; osteoporosis.