UC-II Undenatured Collagen
UC-II from InterHealth Nutraceuticals Inc. (Benicia, CA) is an extract from chicken sternal cartilage containing approximately 25% undenatured type II collagen. Undenatured collagen is native collagen that is extracted to maintain its unprocessed or natural form.
Data from two recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies on UC-II collagen were presented at the 2015 Scripps Natural Supplement Conference in San Diego, California.14 A total of 186 individuals with OA were divided into three groups and asked to consume either 40 mg of UC-II, 1500 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride with 1200 mg of chondroitin sulfate, or a placebo daily for 180 days. The primary outcome measure was a change in WOMAC scores compared to placebo.
The results of the studies showed that UC-II supplementation led to a statistically significant reduction in WOMAC scores versus placebo treatment, with individuals in the UC-II group reporting significant reductions in pain and stiffness, and improved joint function.
An earlier study published in 2009 also supports the beneficial effect of UC-II in OA of the knee joint.15 In this comparative clinical trial, a total of 52 subjects (male and female, aged 40 to 75) with moderate OA of the knee were randomly assigned daily for 90 days to either supplementation with UC-II (40 mg per day, with 10 mg of bioactive undenatured type II collagen) or a combination of 1500 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride plus 1200 mg of chondroitin sulfate. Clinical assessments were conducted on each individual at the initial visit as well as at 30, 60, and 90 days. The assessments included WOMAC questionnaires, pain scores as measured on a visual analog scale, and a functional assessment using Lequesne’s index.
Supplementation with UC-II reduced WOMAC scores by 33% compared to a reduction of only 14% by glucosamine plus chondroitin at 90 days, while pain scores on the visual analog scale assessed at 90 days declined by 40% in the UC-II group versus by 15% in the group taking glucosamine and chondroitin. Furthermore, participants consuming UC-II saw significant improvements in Lequesne’s functional index from baseline to 90 days, indicating superiority of UC-II versus glucosamine and chondroitin in the study population and highlighting its overall benefits to joint function and pain.
A subsequent clinical trial aimed to determine the benefits of UC-II in healthy individuals with no prior history of OA but who experience knee pain and discomfort with strenuous physical activity.6 Fifty-five subjects with an average age of 46 years were recruited to participate in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. For 120 days, participants were asked to consume 40 mg of UC-II daily or a placebo. Joint function was assessed by measuring changes in knee range of motion as well as measuring the time to onset of knee pain and recovery following a stepmill exertion task. Participants were assessed at a screening visit and then again at baseline and at 7, 30, 60, 90, and 120 days. Forty-six individuals completed the study and were included in the final analysis.
The authors found that supplementation with UC-II led to statistically significant increases in knee extension compared to placebo and to baseline function after 120 days. In addition, supplementation led to a statistically significant increase in time to onset of initial joint pain as measured during the stepmill exertion test versus baseline at both 90 and 120 days. The findings of the study indicate that UC-II is able to improve joint function in healthy individuals experiencing joint pain with strenuous activity.
In discussing the potential mechanism of action of UC-II for joint-health issues, the authors point to evidence indicating that the substance works via an oral tolerance mechanism by desensitizing the immune system from mounting an inappropriate immune response, resulting in a localized decrease in inflammation in the affected joint. In fact, earlier investigations into UC-II and its effects in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition, demonstrate its ability to function via an oral tolerance mechanism.16
Given the relatively small dose required for benefits, it seems that modulating the immune response to reduce localized joint inflammation is indeed also the way in which UC-II benefits joint health in OA and in healthy individuals with joint discomfort.
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