Collagen vs Keratin: Difference and Comparison

Collagen and keratin are different kinds of proteins in the human body. Proteins are made up of smaller molecules known as amino acids.

Amino acids are the monomers that form a polymer known as a protein when linked together through polypeptide bonds.

Key Takeaways

  1. Collagen is a structural protein found in connective tissues, such as skin, tendons, and cartilage; keratin is a protein in hair, nails, and the outer layer of skin.
  2. Collagen provides tissue strength and elasticity, promoting skin health and healing; keratin contributes to hair and nails’ hardness and structural integrity.
  3. Collagen production decreases with age, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin, while keratin can be damaged by heat, chemicals, and mechanical stress, causing hair and nail issues.

Collagen vs. Keratin

Collagen and keratin both are integral proteins found extensively in human body and provide structural support to the body. Collage mainly makes up the connective tissue of the body while keratin is abundantly found in skin, nails, and hair. Cells which make up collagen are fibroblasts while keratinocytes produce keratin.

Collagen vs Keratin

Collagen comprises our bones, cartilage, tendons, and other connective tissues. On the other hand, Keratin acts as a shield for our body and is found in the outermost layer of our skin, hair, nails, etc.

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonCollagenKeratin
Location Found Extracellular matrix and connective tissue. In epithelial cells and structures like hair, nails, etc.
Structural Constituents Made up of hydroxyproline, glycine, proline, and alanine. Made up of phenylalanine, isoleucine, valine, methionine, and alanine.
Types There are 28 types of collagen proteins found in the human body. There are two types of keratin found in the human body.
Effect on Epithelial Cells The formation of collagen does not lead to the death of epithelial cells (cornification). The formation of keratin gives rise to the cornification of epithelial cells that makes the outermost layer of skin, hair, and nails.
Commercial Use Used in surgical reconstruction procedures. Used in making cosmetics and as an additive in chemicals.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is a fibrous protein present in the matrix outside the cell. It is considered as the most abundant protein in the animal kingdom. It provides strength and structure to our bodies.

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When collagen mineralizes to be rigid, it forms the bone. When it mineralizes to be compliant, it forms the tendon, and when it mineralizes to be a combination of both rigid and compliant, it forms the cartilage.

It comprises three polypeptide chains that bind together to form a left-handed helix. Further, three of these left-handed helices combine to form a right-handed triple helix (also known as “superhelix”) stabilized by hydrogen bonds.

Collagen can be used for a wide number of reasons. It is used in cosmetic surgery, burns surgery, and even to make sausage casings! It can be used in foods as well as for medical purposes.

Lack of collagen production causes a disease known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). Eating foods rich in vitamin C can increase collagen production in our bodies.

collagen

What is Keratin?

Keratin is also a fibrous protein. It is one of the main components in making our hair, skin, nails, feathers, claws, hooves, and horns in some other vertebrates.

Keratin has a special ability that helps in the cornification of cells. When keratin production starts and the cell is filled with keratin, the cell organelles disappear, and the cell undergoes death.

Cells in the outermost layer of our skin contain keratin in their matrix, making it waterproof. Keratin is used in making hair care products and other cosmetics.

Problems in keratin formation cause diseases like epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS) and epidermolysis hyperkeratosis (EH).

keratin

Main Differences Between Collagen and Keratin

  1. Collagen is used for medical purposes, while keratin is mostly used in cosmetics.
  2. Collagen is made in cells called fibroblasts. Keratinocytes present in the dermis of the skin make keratin.
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References
  1. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/fstr/9/1/9_1_91/_article/-char/ja/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1010603001005846
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Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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23 thoughts on “Collagen vs Keratin: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I’m not convinced about the importance of this information. It’s interesting, but how does it apply to the real world?

    Reply
    • I understand your point, but given the prevalence of cosmetics and medical uses, this information is more applicable than you might think.

      Reply
  2. So much to learn from this post. It’s always great to understand the science behind the structure of our bodies.

    Reply
  3. The post was very informative and useful. I have gained so much knowledge about collagen and keratin. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  4. A solid piece that doesn’t hold your hand. It trusts readers to engage with the complex material, and that’s refreshing.

    Reply

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