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What are the functions of collagen and elastin?

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Quick Answer

Collagen gives skin its strength and waterproof capabilities, while collagen and elastin together give it elasticity. They are both proteins essential to the function of vertebrae animals.

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What are the functions of collagen and elastin?
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Full Answer

Collagen is commonly found in connective tissue, but can also be found in the body's cartilage, bone, blood vessels and even the gastrointestinal tract. Collagen fibers help support tissues as well as the extracellular cellular matrices.

In each of the locations within the body, collagen works with other proteins like keratin and elastin to add flexibility and waterproof capabilities to the parts of the vertebrae. When a person loses collagen in their body, they begin to develop wrinkles.

The elasticity of tissues, including the skin, is due to elastin. Because of elastin's elastic properties, scientists first thought it was an amorphous polymer. Since then, further research has proven that it is a protein.

In addition to being found in the skin, elastin is found in organs and other parts of the bodies, including the spaces between tissues. It forms into bundles to create integrated lattices that offer additional structure and support to organs and structural components, including blood vessels, the heart and lungs. This enables people to participate in high-intensity activities, such as running, without damage to their internal organs.

Collagen and elastin also have functions outside of the body. Collagen is often used in cosmetic treatments. It is also used to make gelatin and sausage casings.

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