GHK-Cu, Copper Peptide, is a naturally occurring human tri-peptide. In plasma, the level of GHK-Cu is about 200 ng/ml at age 20, , but declines to 80 ng/mL by age 60. This decline in the GHK-level coincides with the noticeable decrease in regenerative capacity of an organism.
Scientific studies conducted in different research laboratories around the world have established that human tri-peptide GHK-Cu possesses a plethora of biological actions including activation of wound healing, attraction of immune cells, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, stimulation of collagen and glycosaminoglycan synthesis in skin fibroblasts and promotion of blood vessels growth.
Cosmetic use: GHK-Cu is widely used in anti-aging cosmetics. Several controlled facial studies confirmed anti-aging, firming and anti-wrinkle activity of copper peptide GHK-Cu. A number of placebo-controlled clinical studies found GHK-Cu to improve skin quality in women around the age of 50. A study of collagen production determined by studying skin biopsy samples using immunohistological techniques found that after applying creams to the thighs for one month, GHK-peptides had a significant effect on collagen production. Increases were found in 70% of the women treated with GHK-Cu, in contrast to 50% treated with the vitamin C cream, and 40% treated with retinoic acid. A GHK-Cu facial cream reduced visible signs of aging after 12 weeks of application to the facial skin of 71 women with mild to advanced signs of photoaging. The cream improved skin laxity, clarity, and appearance, reduced fine lines and the depth of wrinkles, and increased skin density and thickness. In another 12-week facial study of 67 women between 50 and 59 years with mild to advanced photodamage, a GHK-Cu was applied twice daily and improved skin laxity, clarity, firmness and appearance, reduced fine lines, coarse wrinkles and mottled pigmentation, and increased skin density, and thickness. The cream also strongly stimulated dermal keratinocyte proliferation as determined by the histological analysis of biopsies. These placebo-controlled studies demonstrated that GHK-Cu skin creams had the following effects:
1. Tighten loose skin and improve elasticity
2. Improve skin density and firmness
3. Reduce fine lines and deep wrinkles
4. Improve skin clarity
5. Reduce photodamage and mottled hyper-pigmentation
6. Strongly increase keratinocyte proliferation.
Hair growth benefit: GHK-Cu and its analogues were found to strongly stimulate hair growth. The efficiency of synthetic analog of GHK-Cu was similar to that of 5% minoxidil.
Stem cells: In 2009, a group of researchers from the Seoul National University (Republic of Korea) demonstrated that the copper-peptide GHK-Cu stimulated proliferation of keratinocytes and increased expression of integrins and p63 protein in the epidermal stem cells. Since p63 is considered to be an important marker of stem cell and anti-senescence protein, the authors concluded that GHK-copper is able to revive the proliferative potential of epidermal stem cells and increase their ability to repair tissue.
Human fibroblasts: Recent studies have revealed many new aspects of molecular actions of the copper-peptide GHK-Cu. Pollard at al established that GHK-Cu is able to restore function of human fibroblasts damaged by radiation treatment thus accelerate the healing and regenerative processes.
Skin repair: Wound healing and skin repair involves inflammation, cell proliferation and migration and dermal matrix remodeling. Excessive inflammation may delay healing and lead to scar formation. GHK-Cu reduced TNF-alpha induced secretion of proinflammatory cytokine IL-6, in normal human dermal fibroblasts. The authors propose that GHK and GHK-Cu can be used as a topical agent in treatment of inflammatory skin conditions instead of corticosteroids.
Dna repair: GHK was able to restore viability of irradiated fibroblasts. The researchers used cultured human fibroblasts obtained from cervical skin that was either intact or exposed to radioactive treatment (5000 rad). Fibroblasts are central cells in both wound healing and tissue renewal processes. They not only synthesize different components of dermal matrix, but also produce a number of growth factors that are involved in a multitude of cellular pathways regulating cell migration and proliferation, angiogenesis, epithelialization, and so forth. Radiation damages cell DNA, thus impairing their function. Since GHK was able to restore function of irradiated fibroblasts, it has to have effects on DNA repair.
It has long been accepted that the human copper-binding peptide GHK-Cu enhances healing of dermal wounds and stimulates skin renewal exhibiting a wide range of effects. Cellular pathways involved in dermal repair and skin regeneration form an intricate and finely orchestrated biochemical network, where various regulatory molecules are involved in a cross-talk. When such an interaction is disrupted, the healing is delayed and may result in excessive inflammation and scarring. It appears that GHK is able to restore healthy functioning of essential cellular pathways in dermal repair through resetting the gene pattern to a healthier state. The molecule is very safe and no issues have ever arisen during its use as a skin cosmetic or in human wound healing studies.