A Review of Collagen and Collagen-based Wound Dressings

David Brett, BS, BS, MS


Wounds. 2008;20(12) 

In This Article

Collagen: Native Versus Denatured

In addition to the various sources of collagen (bovine, porcine, etc.), collagen dressings can also contain different types of collagen. These types of collagens may result in unique activity in the wound bed as they have different substrate specificity. For example, Type I (native) collagen attracts MMP-1.[1]

Denatured collagen (gelatin) attracts MMP-2 and MMP-9.[1,21] Gelatin also attracts stromelysin and matrilysin.[21] These MMPs (among others) are found in excess in chronic wounds and contribute to a wound's chronicity (see Appendix II for a breakdown of collagen source/type per collagen dressing).

Biochemistry of Collagen Types. When a migrating cell (such as a keratinocyte) encounters Type I collagen, the cell secretes MMPs in order to denature the Type I collagen to gelatin. A critical reason for this is that once Type I collagen is converted into gelatin, many active sites (RGD sequences) are made accessible to the cells. RGD (Arg-Gly-Asp) sequences are attachment sites and are chemotactic for a variety of cells responsible for creating granulation tissue. Thus, a collagen dressing containing gelatin could provide enhanced signaling to the cells responsible for creating granulation tissue. A collagen-dressing containing only Type I collagen requires MMP-1 to initially convert collagen to gelatin, so cells in the wound must first release MMP-1 to change the Type I collagen into gelatin to get this benefit.

Pore Size and Surface Area. Pore size of collagen dressings is important to allow cells to enter the dressing and concentrate therein. In addition, surface area plays a role in managing exudate. Typically the larger the surface area, the more exudate is absorbed.


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