Send to

Choose Destination
J Mol Biol. 1988 Sep 20;203(2):495-505.

Glycation induces expansion of the molecular packing of collagen.

Author information

Department of Biochemistry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway 08854.


Exposure of rat tail tendon to a reducing sugar results in covalent attachment of the sugar to collagen, a process termed glycation, and leads to the formation of stable intermolecular cross-links. We have used X-ray diffraction to study the changes in the crystalline unit cell of rat tail tendon collagen brought about by glycation. Ribose was selected as a model compound for most of the study because its reaction with proteins is faster than that of glucose, and therefore more convenient for laboratory studies, but glucose and glyceraldehyde were used as well. A kinetic model describing the process of glycation by ribose and subsequent cross-link formation has been developed. Glycation resulted in an expansion by more than 12% of the unit cell that describes the three-dimensional structure of rat tail tendon collagen. The expansion was in a direction perpendicular to the axes of the rod-shaped molecules, indicating that the intermolecular spacing of the collagen increased. Thus, the structure of collagen in rat tail tendon is significantly altered by glycation in vitro. The expansion was not isotropic, but was directed parallel to the (120) planes, one of the three major planes of the quasi-hexagonal structure that is densely populated by collagen molecules. It is hypothesized that this expansion is brought about by the formation of one, or at most a few, specific intermolecular cross-links in the overlap zone that act to push the molecules apart. It is likely that similar structural changes in collagenous tissues are caused by glycation in vivo during the natural course of aging, and that these changes are accelerated in chronic hyperglycemia such as that associated with diabetes. Analysis of the structure of glycated rat tail tendon potentially can give us new insight into the detailed molecular structure of collagen.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center