What is gelatin?

Gelatin is a heterogeneous mixture of water-soluble proteins of high average molecular weights, present in collagen. The proteins are extracted by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, bones, etc. in water.1 Type A gelatin is derived from acid-cured tissue and Type B gelatin is derived from lime-cured tissue.2

What is gelatin used for?

Application using gelatin includes coating cell culture plates to improve cell attachment for a variety of cell types, addition to PCR to help stabilize Taq DNA polymerase,3 and use as a blocking reagent in Western blotting, ELISA, and immunohistochemistry.4 In bacteriology, gelatin can be used as a component of culture media for species differentiation.5 Additionally, as a biocompatible polymer, gelatin has been used as a delivery vehicle for the release of bioactive molecules6 and in the generation of scaffolds for tissue engineering applications.7

Industrial application includes the use of gelatin as a stabilizer, thickener, and texturizer in foods and in the manufacture of rubber substitutes, adhesives, cements, lithographic and printing inks, plastic compounds, artificial silk, photographic plates and films, matches, and light filters for mercury lamps.1 In the pharmaceutical industry, gelatin is used as a suspending agent, encapsulating agent, and tablet binder; and in veterinary applications, it is used as a plasma expander and hemostatic sponge.1

Different Types of Gelatin


Budavari S. 1996. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Index. 742. 12th Ed:
Dieffenbach C, Dveksler GS. 1995. PCR Primer: A Laboratory Manual. NY: Cold Spring Harbor.
Vogt RV, Phillips DL, Omar Henderson L, Whitfield W, Spierto FW. 1987. Quantitative differences among various proteins as blocking agents for ELISA microtiter plates. Journal of Immunological Methods. 101(1):43-50.
Levine M, Carpenter DC. 1923. GELATIN LIQUEFACTION BY BACTERIA. 8(4):297-306.
Young S, Wong M, Tabata Y, Mikos AG. 2005. Gelatin as a delivery vehicle for the controlled release of bioactive molecules. Journal of Controlled Release. 109(1-3):256-274.
Huang Y, Onyeri S, Siewe M, Moshfeghian A, Madihally SV. 2005. In vitro characterization of chitosan?gelatin scaffolds for tissue engineering. Biomaterials. 26(36):7616-7627.