The human copper-binding peptide GHK-Cu (glycyl-l-histidyl-l-lysine) is a natural peptide that is currently used as a protective a regenerative ingredient in skin and hair products because of its numerous benefits on the skin and hair. For instance, GHK-Cu improves wound healing, stimulates collagen and glycosaminoglycan synthesis in the skin, boosts the immune system, and promotes growth of blood vessels. GHK-Cu also has significant anti-aging effects as it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
GHK-Cu works by boosting collagen and elastin production in the skin. Collagen makes the skin strong and resilient while elastin makes the skin flexible enough to regain its shape when stretched. It also has the ability to regulate both metalloproteinases (a group of enzymes that can break down proteins such as collagen) and their inhibitors, which in turn improves skin regeneration and appearance. In addition, GHK-Cu also promotes hair growth by blocking the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Finally, it promotes nerve regeneration by increasing the production of nerve growth factors.
GHK-Cu (glycyl-l-histidyl-l-lysine) is a tripeptide found in human plasma, saliva, and urine. It was first discovered by Loren Pickart in 1973 by isolating the tripeptide from the human plasma. The GHK molecule has a very high affinity for Cu2+, hence forming the GHK-Cu complex. The chemical structure of GHK-Cu below shows the Cu2+ being directly linked to three nitrogen atoms – one from the imidazole group, one from glycine, and another one from the glycine-histidine bond. 
Research studies have shown that GHK-Cu has significant regenerative and antioxidant properties that improve skin health and prevent skin aging. For instance, animal studies and clinical trials have demonstrated that GHK-Cu tightens loose skin, which is one of the most apparent sign of skin aging:
Another benefit of GHK-Cu on the skin is that it stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, which are primary structural components of the dermis. Collagen and elastin maintain the elasticity and integrity of the skin. Reduced collagen and elastin production has been linked to aging-related loss of elasticity and weakening of the skin. The following studies provide evidence that GHK-Cu promotes collagen and elastin production, hence enhancing skin elasticity:
Fine lines and deep wrinkles are the most apparent signs of skin aging. The development of fine lines and wrinkles is linked to the loss of collagen and elastin in the dermis that occurs with age. Chronic exposure to UV light from the sun also contributes to the development of wrinkles. Research studies show that GHK-Cu helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the skin:
Thinning of the skin with age is the result of the loss of keratinocytes in the skin and the reduced volume of the dermis, which is due to the loss of collagen and elastin in this skin layer. Thinning makes the skin appear translucent, causing veins and tendons to become apparent. Research studies and controlled trials provide scientific evidence that GHK-Cu effectively reverses thinning of aged skin:
Research studies have shown that GHK-Cu also smoothens and evens out skin texture:
In vitro and chemical studies provide definitive evidence that GHK-Cu prevents skin aging through its antioxidant properties:
GHK-Cu plays an integral role in tissue remodeling and other phases of the wound healing process. An overwhelming body of scientific evidence supports the regenerative properties of this tripeptide:
Because of its regenerative properties, GHK-Cu has also been used for the treatment of several lung conditions, as evidenced by the following studies:
There is also strong scientific evidence that supports the effects of GHK-Cu in stimulating hair growth and preventing age-related hair loss:
Evidence suggests that GHK-Cu also has potent anti-cancer properties that can help suppress the growth and reproduction of aggressive cancer cells:
Studies show that GHK-Cu has the capacity to heal the most debilitating nerve injuries:
A number of studies also found that GHK-Cu exerts anti-anxiety effect that can help improve overall mood:
Studies show that GHK-Cu can potentially combat cognitive dysfunction related to aging and brain disorders through various important mechanisms:
A number of studies reported that GHK-Cu has the ability to protect liver cells against various types of injury:
The regenerative properties of GHK-Cu have also been shown to be beneficial in bone disorders:
GHK-Cu has also been shown to exert anti-inflammatory properties:
GHK-Cu side effects are very uncommon. There have been some side effects associated with the use of this peptide wherein the patient had one of the issues listed below at some point while being on GHK-Cu. However, the issue wasn’t’ confirmed to be caused by the treatment and could have been a coincidence and not related to the use of GHK-Cu. Despite this, it was listed as a side effect associated with GHK-Cu even these associated side effects are very uncommon.
Side effects associated with GHK-Cu may include the following:
biotinylated GHK incorporated collagen matrices. Life Sci. 2007;2;80(4):275-84.
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