Collagen is the main structural protein of the various connective tissues in animals. As the main component of connective tissue, it is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up from 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content.
Collagen, in the form of elongated fibrils, is mostly found in fibrous tissues such as tendons, ligaments and skin. It is also abundant in corneas, cartilage, bones, blood vessels, the gut, intervertebral discs and the dentin in teeth. In muscle tissue, it serves as a major component of theendomysium. Collagen constitutes one to two percent of muscle tissue, and accounts for 6% of the weight of strong, tendinous muscles. Thefibroblast is the most common cell that creates collagen.
Gelatin, which is used in food and industry, is collagen that has been irreversibly hydrolyzed. Collagen also has many medical uses in treating complications of the bones and skin.
The name collagen comes from the Greek κολλα, kolla meaning “glue” and suffix -γέν, -gen denoting “producing.” This refers to the compound’s early use in the process of boiling the skin and sinews of horses and other animals to obtain glue.