Rousselot, a Darling Ingredient global brand and a leading global manufacturer of gelatin and collagen peptides, has revealed the findings of a study investigating the effects of Peptan collagen peptides on bone metabolism. Using a pioneering clinical screening approach developed by the French National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA) as part of the collaboration, the study set off to investigate the cellular mechanisms behind the overall benefits of collagen peptides on bone health. Published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, the results indicated that Peptan collagen peptides directly target and modulate the function of bone-remodelling cells, providing further evidence that the benefits of bioactive collagen peptides go beyond simple protein supplementation and are an effective nutritional intervention to support bone health.
Bone is a highly dynamic tissue with a continuous matrix turnover - a fine-tuned and highly regulated balance of processes that break down and rebuild matrix. Collagen is a crucial component of the bone, as it represents 80% of the total protein mass in the skeleton, and is a key part of the bone’s protein scaffold that provides the structure for mineral deposition. Forming long fibers, collagen provides bones with the strength and flexibility to resist fractures.
Previously published preclinical research by Rousselot has shown that supplementation with Peptan collagen peptides helps to maintain bones healthy and strong in a mouse model of menopause-induced bone loss. Peptan-supplemented animals showed an improved bone mineral density and improved bone strength,.
Combining in vivo, ex vivo and clinical approaches, Rousselot and INRA explored the cellular mechanisms by which bioactive collagen peptides exert their beneficial effects on the skeleton. For that purpose, an ex vivo model was designed that specifically takes into account the modifications that collagen peptides undergo when taken orally and passing through the digestive system. Following the intake of collagen peptides or hydrolyzed casein as a control, serum was collected from mice at 1hr after intake, the time where the concentration of bioactive metabolites was previously recorded to peak. The samples were then tested in bone-related primary cell culture assays for effects on osteoblast and osteoclast activity i.e. the cells responsible for new bone formation and bone degradation, respectively. Results revealed that mouse serum enriched with collagen peptide metabolites had a direct stimulatory impact on osteoblast activity and processes involved in forming bone mass. In addition, Peptan serum inhibited the differentiation of osteoclasts, meaning they could not develop into mature and fully functional cells that break down bone mass. These effects were not observed in the control group.
To assess the relevance of these findings for humans the study design was adapted for repetition in human volunteers. Ten healthy volunteers fasted for 12 hours and then took 25g of either Peptan collagen peptides or hydrolyzed casein dissolved in water. At the time of maximum absorption (1hr post-ingestion), blood was collected to produce metabolite-enriched serum and bioactivity assays were performed in human cell models according to the methodology developed by INRA. The observations were fully in line with the results from the mouse cell assays, confirming that collagen-enriched serum enhanced osteoblast activity, supporting bone formation, and lowered osteoclastogenesis, responsible for the degradation of bone cells.
Strikingly, Peptan collagen peptides of different raw materials (bovine, porcine, fish) all showed comparable effects.
Yohann Wittrant, senior researcher at INRA and leading investigator in the trial, says: “In response to the growing demand for innovative tools of high physiological relevance that can assess the efficacy of nutritional interventions without the common limitations, Fabien Wauquier, first author of the article, and I designed this novel approach. By taking into account the metabolism at the whole-body level, in particular the modifications that collagen peptides undergo when passing through the body’s system of digestion and absorption, this pioneering study has provided new insights into the mode of action of collagen peptides, demonstrating that they can directly impact bone cell activity.”
Lisette Van Lith, Global Director Peptan, comments: “Previous research had already shown the benefits of Peptan on bone health but understanding the cellular mechanisms that are responsible for those benefits has major scientific value for the body of evidence for bioactive collagen peptides. Results of this recent trial clearly demonstrate the dual impact supplementation has in both improving bone formation and reducing bone breakdown, thus promoting overall bone health. We’re extremely proud to contribute to an ever increasing portfolio of supporting science that can be used by our customers to educate consumers on the benefits of collagen peptides.”
Such findings, supported at preclinical as well as clinical level, are particularly significant as the incidence of osteoporosis increases globally, and manufacturers now look to develop new, safe products to promote bone health and to serve as a preventative nutritional solution and keep the population healthier for longer.
The research supports Rousselot’s existing scientific portfolio of Peptan® collagen peptides. To find out more, visit Science page.
 Wauquier F. et al., ‘Human enriched serum following hydrolysed collagen absorption modulates bone cell activity: from bedside to bench and vice versa’, Nutrients, 2019, vol. 11, no. 6, pg. 1249.
 Guillerminet, F. et al., 2010, Hydrolyzed collagen improves bone metabolism and biomechanical parameters in ovariectomized mice: An in vitro and in vivo study. Bone, 46:827-834
 Guillerminet, F. et al., 2012, Hydrolyzed collagen improves bone status and prevents bone loss in ovariectomized C3H/HeN mice. Osteoporosis International, 23(7):1909-1919