Human-like collagen (HLC), the collagen produced using fermentation technology, has been demonstrated previously to promote wound healing. However, the healing property of HLC in gastric ulcers remains to be verified. In this study, we investigated the healing efficacy and healing mechanisms of HLC on gastric ulcers. To investigate whether HLC still has healing activity on gastric ulcers after gastric digestion, we simulated gastric digestion in vitro to obtain a human-like collagen digestion product (HLCP) and used it as the control drug. A chronic gastric ulcer model induced by 60% acetic acid in rats was used to evaluate the healing effect of gastric ulcers in this study. The results showed that oral administration of HLC or HLCP for 4 or 7 days promoted ulcer healing, which can be directly observed by significant reductions in ulcer area. The oral administration of HLC and HLCP significantly increased the protein expression of growth factors (EGF, HGF, VEGF, bFGF and TGF-β1) and the HGF receptor (HGFr), promoted collagen deposition, regulated the activity of NOS, and decreased pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-a, il-6, il-10) and endothelin-1 (ET-1) levels in gastric tissue. Moreover, cell experiments showed that the effects of HLC on cell proliferation and migration are mainly caused by its digestion products. These findings indicate that HLC may be used as a nutritional supplement or therapeutic drug to promote the healing of gastric ulcers.
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