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What is Type III Collagen?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Type III collagen is found primarily in tissues of the body that exhibit elastic properties, like the blood vessels and skin. Some of the body's internal organs also contain this type of collagen. It is often present in areas of the body which also contain type I collagen.

This type of collagen is considered to be a scleroprotein, which is the type of protein used in the construction of muscle fibers and connective tissue. It is fibrous in nature, meaning that it contains elastic qualities as well as the typical qualities of collagen. As a scleroprotein, it is considered to be a somewhat simple protein and is most commonly found in body tissues that contain some sort of cartilage. It is also present in the portion of the eye known as the lens.

Generally found in bones, tendons, and cartilage, type III collagen can also be found in bone marrow and what is known as stroma. Stroma is located in bone marrow, but it functions a bit differently than the rest of that tissue. Various other types of connective tissue can contain this collagen as well. When it reaches the boiling point, a substance known as gelatin is formed.

The gene responsible for the body's production of this collagen has been labeled COL3A1. The protein is designed to provide support and strength for body tissues. Pro-alpha1 chains are the names given to the components of the collagen produced by the COL3A1 gene.

Hundreds of mutations in this particular gene have been discovered by scientists, and they can create some medical issues. Some types of aneurysms, particularly those originating in the aorta, or primary cardiac artery, can result from this type of genetic mutation. An aneurysm is basically a bulging of a blood vessel; if this bulge ruptures, it becomes a medical emergency, as death is a very real possibility.

The most severe forms of a condition known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome are often attributed to the mutation of the type III collagen gene. With this condition, not enough collagen is produced by the body, which can cause blood vessels and organs to actually rupture. This condition can be life-threatening and requires consistent monitoring by a medical professional.

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Discussion Comments

By burcinc — On Dec 05, 2011

@anamur-- You're right. People always talk about collagen in the skin, which makes us forget that there is collagen everywhere, in all of our organs and tissues. Because without collagen, we wouldn't be able to keep our organs and tissues together. Along with collagen and several other proteins, our body can function without falling apart. Collagen helps keep everything together, intact and flexible. It's super important.

I learned about collagen types I, II and III from my sister who is a nurse. But I wish I had learned about it before, in science and biology courses at school.

By discographer — On Dec 05, 2011

@anamur-- There are more than fifteen different types of collagen, but they're not all present in equal amounts in our body.

Type I, II and III collagen is most important because these are the ones present in highest amounts. But we also carry some type IV through VII collagen too.

I know that there is a huge industry for syntethic collagen. Some of it comes from animals and others are plant based. So I'm sure that doctors can prescribe collagen supplements if someone has a deficiency.

To replace collagen present in the skin, there are a lot of skin products with collagen in it as you mentioned. But I know that it's possible to take collagen orally because when I was in Asia, saw collagen candies everywhere. It seemed odd to me then, but now I understand why.

By serenesurface — On Dec 04, 2011

I thought that collagen was only present in the skin, probably because skin products often contain collagen and are promoted for their anti-wrinkle properties. I didn't know that collagen is also present and important for other organs in the body.

So, how many types of collagen is there overall?

And if the body doesn't produce enough of type III collagen, can we take synthetic Type III collagen to make up for it? Or is this something that can only be produced by the body?

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