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Event Title

Collagen, Accumulation
Short name: Collagen, Accumulation

Key Event Overview

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AOPs Including This Key Event

AOP Name Event Type Essentiality
Protein Alkylation leading to Liver Fibrosis KE Strong

Taxonomic Applicability

Name Scientific Name Evidence Links
human Homo sapiens Strong NCBI
Rattus norvegicus Rattus norvegicus Strong NCBI
mouse Mus musculus Strong NCBI

Level of Biological Organization

Biological Organization

How this Key Event works

Collagen 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 the endomysium. Collagen is the main structural protein in the extracellular space in the various connective tissues, making up from 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content. In normal tissues, collagen provides strength, integrity, and structure. When tissues are disrupted following injury, collagen is needed to repair the defect. If too much collagen is deposited, normal anatomical structure is lost, function is compromised, and fibrosis results.

The fibroblast is the most common collagen producing cell.Collagen-producing cells may also arise from the process of transition of differentiated epithelial cells into mesenchymal cells (EMT). This has been observed e.g. during renal fibrosis (transformation of tubular epithelial cells into fibroblasts) and in liver injury (transdifferentiation of hepatocytes and cholangiocytes into fibroblasts). [1]

There are close to 20 different types of collagen found with the predominant form being type I collagen. This fibrillar form of collagen represents over 90 percent of our total collagen and is composed of three very long protein chains which are wrapped around each other to form a triple helical structure called a collagen monomer. Collagen is produced initially as a larger precursor molecule called procollagen. As the procollagen is secreted from the cell, procollagen proteinases remove the extension peptides from the ends of the molecule. The processed molecule is referred to as collagen and is involved in fiber formation. In the extracellular spaces the triple helical collagen molecules line up and begin to form fibrils and then fibers. Formation of stable crosslinks within and between the molecules is promoted by the enzyme lysyl oxidase and gives the collagen fibers tremendous strength. [2] The overall amount of collagen deposited by fibroblasts is a regulated balance between collagen synthesis and collagen catabolism. Disturbance of this balance leads to changes in the amount and composition of collagen. Changes in the composition of the extracellular matrix initiate positive feedback pathways that increase collagen production.

Normally, collagen in connective tissues has a slow turn over; degradating enzymes are collagenases, belonging to the family of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs).Other cells that can synthesize and release collagenase are macrophages, neutrophils, osteoclasts, and tumor cells.

[3] [4][5][6]

How it is Measured or Detected

Determination of the amount of collagen produced in vitro can be done in a variety of ways ranging from simple colorimetric assays to elaborate chromatographic procedures using radioactive and non-radioactive material. What most of these procedures have in common is the need to destroy the cell layer to obtain solubilized collagen from the pericellular matrix. Rishikof et al describe several methods to assess the in vitro production of type I collagen: Western immunoblotting of intact alpha1(I) collagen using antibodies directed to alpha1(I) collagen amino and carboxyl propeptides, the measurement of alpha1(I) collagen mRNA levels using real-time polymerase chain reaction, and methods to determine the transcriptional regulation of alpha1(I) collagen using a nuclear run-on assay. [7]

Evidence Supporting Taxonomic Applicability

Humans: [8][9] Mice: [10][11][12] Rats: [13][14][15][16]


  1. Henderson, N.C. and J.P. Iredale (2007), Liver fibrosis: cellular mechanisms of progression and resolution, Clin Sci (Lond), vol. 112, no. 5, pp. 265-280.
  2. Diegelmann, R.F. (2001), Collagen Metabolism, Wounds, vol. 13, no. 5, available at www.medscape.com/viewarticle/423231 (accessed on 20 Jamuary 2016).
  3. Di Lullo, G.A. et al. (2001), Mapping the Ligand-binding Sites and Disease-associated Mutations on the Most Abundant Protein in the Human, Type I Collagen, J. Biol. Chem, vol. 277, no. 6, pp. 4223–4231.
  4. Prockop, D.J. and K.I. Kivirikko (1995), Collagens: molecular biology, diseases, and potentials for therapy, Annu Rev Biochem, vol. 64, pp. 403-434.
  5. Miller, E.J. and S. Gay (1987), The collagens: an overview and update, Methods Enzymol, vol. 144, pp. 3-41.
  6. Kivirikko, K.I. and L. Risteli (1976), Biosynthesis of collagen and its alterations in pathological states, Med Biol, vol. 54, no. 3, pp. 159-186.
  7. Rishikof, D.C. et al. (2005), Methods for measuring type I collagen synthesis in vitro, Methods, Mol Med, vol. 117, pp.129-140.
  8. Bataller, R. and D.A. Brenner (2005), Liver Fibrosis, J.Clin. Invest, vol. 115, no. 2, pp. 209-218.
  9. Decaris, M.L. et al. (2015), Turnover rates of hepatic collagen and circulating collagen- associated proteins in humans with chronic liver disease, PLoS One, vol. 10, no. 4, e0123311.
  10. Dalton, S.R. et al. (2009), Carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage in asialoglycoprotein receptor-deficient mice, Biochem Pharmacol, vol. 77, no. 7, pp. 1283-1290.
  11. Leung, T.M. et al. (2008), Endothelial nitric oxide synthase is a critical factor in experimental liver fibrosis, Int J Exp Pathol, vol. 89, no. 4, pp. 241-250.
  12. Nan, Y.M. et al. (2013), Activation of peroxisome proliferator activated receptor alpha ameliorates ethanol mediated liver fibrosis in mice, Lipids in Health and Disease, vol. 12, p. 11.
  13. Hamdy, N. and E. El-Demerdash. (2012), New therapeutic aspect for carvedilol: antifibrotic effects of carvedilol in chronic carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage, Toxicol Appl Pharmacol, vol. 261, no. 3, pp. 292-299.
  14. Li, Li et al. (2012), Establishment of a standardized liver fibrosis model with different pathological stages in rats, Gastroenterol Res Pract; vol. 2012, Article ID 560345.
  15. Natajaran, S.K. et al. (2006), Oxidative stress in the development of liver cirrhosis: a comparison of two different experimental models, J Gastroenterol Hepatol, vol. 21, no. 6, pp. 947-957.
  16. Luckey, S.W., and D.R. Petersen (2001), Activation of Kupffer cells during the course of carbon tetrachloride-induced liver injury and fibrosis in rats, Exp Mol Pathol, vol. 71, no. 3, pp. 226-240.