“Got your nose!” Studying hoki nasal cartilage may help scientists treat cartilage-related illnesses

9 July 2019

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, with each of the 28 different ‘types’ of collagen having a specialised role. Three types of collagen (type II, IX and XI) found in cartilage help provide the strength and elastic properties unique to the tissue.  

Cartilage trauma, osteoarthritis and other cartilage-related illnesses are often caused by damage or degradation to cartilage-related collagens. With New Zealand’s ageing population on the rise, the number of people affected by mobility issues is growing, increasing the demand for cartilage replacement scaffolds, new nutraceuticals and a better understanding of the types and properties of cartilage collagens.

While fish cartilage offers potential for high-volume cartilage extracts – without many of the religious and health issues associated with the use of mammalian tissue – to date there has been no research to understand the composition and characteristics of collagens in teleost (bony fish) cartilage.

This study analysed both major and minor collagen types from the nose cartilage of hoki (Macruronus novaezelandiae). Hoki makes up the largest catch in the New Zealand fishery and represents a significant by-product resource. 

The study found that the composition and characteristics of nose collagen is similar to human cartilage. Hoki noses contain the expected cartilage collagens (including type II, type XI and type IX), as well as a highly glycosylated collagen that has not been identified in any other species. These findings significantly enhance the current understanding of collagen in teleost cartilage and indicate that collagens from the nose of teleost could provide biological ingredients for the development of biomaterials to treat cartilage-related illnesses. 

Funding for this study was provided by the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Endeavour Fund. 

Journal Reference:

Cumming M, Hall B, Hofman K 2019. Isolation and Characterisation of Major and Minor Collagens from Hyaline Cartilage of Hoki (Macruronus novaezelandiae) Marine Drugs 17(4): 223. DOI: 10.3390/md17040223

This article made the cover of the journal ‘Marine Drugs’ Photo by Gerard Janssen, Plant & Food Research.

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