Marine Collagen—Safe and Effective for Skin Rejuvenation?

Linda Stocum, Assistant Editor

New study examines the safety and efficacy of hydrolyzed marine collagen on skin elasticity, wrinkles, and hydration in women.

A study (NCT04449159) published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology studied the safety and efficacy of a hydrolyzed marine collagen (Vinh Wellness Collagen) on skin elasticity, wrinkles, and hydration over 12 weeks.1 

The study, a randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel study, included women between 45-60 years with a BMI of 20.0-29.9 kg/m2, who displayed visible signs of natural and photoaging to the face. Aging was assessed by the Fitzpatrick questionnaire and all patients agreed to avoid prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation for study duration.

The Vinh Wellness Collagen (VWC) was derived from a tropical and sustainable freshwater fish called a pangasius hypothalamus. The patients took 10g of VWC or placebo powder that was dissolved in at least 100 ml of water every morning on an empty stomach for 12 weeks. 

If the dose was forgotten, study patients were told to immediately consume the dose and not to exceed 10g.

The study examined the change in wrinkles and elasticity, and self-reported skin appearance after 12 weeks of treatment. Data was collected at week 0, week 6, and week 12. Additionally, safety data was collected at every visit and evaluated at week 12. 

A skin wrinkle analysis was captured using the sixth generation VISIA skin analysis system (Canfield Imaging Systems) to assesses the number of visible wrinkles. Skin elasticity was measured using a Cutometer Dual MPA 580 (Courage Khazaka electronic GmbH). Measurements were taken at baseline, week 6, and week 12.

Self-assessed skin quality data was gathered using a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). The scale ranks patients’ responses on a 0 (no improvement) to 100 (great improvement) scale. Patients were asked to report their skin health based on skin elasticity, hydration, radiance, firmness, wrinkles, and overall feel.

Fifty patients were enrolled in the study, with 25 randomized into the placebo group and 25 into the VWC group. In total, 45 patients finished the study, 5 patients withdrew consent. 

At baseline, patients in the VWC group reported lower VAS scores vs placebo. However, by week 12, the VWC group reported higher scores when compared to placebo in all VAS categories. The VISIA measurements reduced by 24% in wrinkle score after 12 weeks in patients treated with VWC. 

There was no significant difference in cheek skin elasticity between VWC and placebo after 12 weeks, according to the study. The VWC group achieved an 11% improvement in cheek elasticity from baseline to week 6 and a 6% decrease in elasticity from weeks 6 to 12. The placebo group achieved a 5% improvement from baseline to week 6 and a 3% improvement from week 6 to week 12. Of note, patients between 45 and 54 years who received VWC treatment achieved between a 10% and 20% improvement from baseline to week 6. 

There were 32 AEs reported among 19 patients. Out of the 32, 18 were reported by patients in the VWC group compared to 14 in placebo. Out of 18 patient AEs, 17 were categorized as not related/not likely to the related to the treatment. The 1 AE of mild nausea was reported as possibly being related to the product. All AEs were resolved by the end of the study. 

All hematology, clinical chemistry, electrolytes, and liver and kidney function markers remained within healthy clinical reference range during the study for both groups. 

The improvements in skin health were consistent with previous studies examining collagen supplementation.2-3 This is the first study to look at the different responses between the left and the right side of the cheeks, according to the study authors. Photoaging and melanoma are typically more prevalent on the left side of the face due to sun exposure when driving and micro pressure when sleeping, they wrote.

“Future studies are needed to examine potential synergistic effects of VWC with other skin enhancing nutrients and the mechanism of action associated with collagen supplementation and improvements of skin health,” the authors wrote. 

References:

1. Evans M, Lewis ED, Zakaria N, Pelipyagina T, Guthrie N. A randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel study to evaluate the efficacy of a freshwater marine collagen on skin wrinkles and elasticity. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2021;20(3):825-834. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.13676

2. Choi SY, Ko EJ, Lee YH, et al. Effects of collagen tripeptide supplement on skin properties: a prospective, randomized, controlled study. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2014;16(3):132-137. doi:10.3109/14764172.2013.854119

3. Zhou S-L, Wang H-Y, Yue D-X. Clinical effects and safety of oral treatment with low-molecular fish collagen hydrolysate on female facial skin properties. J Pract Dermatol. 2011;4(3). https://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTotal-SYPF201103008.htm

4. Paulson KG, Iyer JG, Nghiem P. Asymmetric lateral distribution of melanoma and merkel cell carcinoma in the United States. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011;65(1):35-39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2010.05.026

5. Poljsak B, Godic A, Lampe T, Dahmane R. The influence of the sleeping on the formation of facial wrinkles. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2012;14(3):133-138. https://doi.org/10.3109/14764172.2012.685563