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What are Copper Peptides (GHK-Cu), and How Do They Work?
What is GHK-Cu Peptide?
First identified in human plasma, GHK-Cu Peptide is a naturally prevalent copper complex in body fluids such as saliva and urine. Copper peptides are small, naturally occurring protein fragments with a high affinity for copper ions, critical to normal body function. GHK-Cu Peptide plays essential functions, including wound healing, attracting immune cells, anti-inflammatory effects, stimulating collagen and glycosaminoglycan synthesis in skin fibroblasts, and promoting angiogenesis.
The peptide is secreted in response to tissue injury and helps protect tissues from inflammatory damage. It promotes tissue remodeling and regeneration post-injury. Further, it plays a significant role in signaling tissue remodeling, removing damaged/scarred tissue. However, there is a reduction in its concentration with age and thus increases inflammation, cancerous activity, and tissue destruction.
GHK-Cu Peptide Mechanism of Action
GHK-Cu Peptide influences various pathways through its peptide sequence and copper. It attracts mast cells and macrophages at the injury site to release proteins that stimulate tissue repair. Primarily, it increases collagen, elastin, proteoglycans, glycosaminoglycans, and decorin in fibroblasts. It also stimulates metalloproteases and protease inhibitors to remove damaged tissue proteins and decreases secretion of TGF-beta from fibroblasts as TGF-beta induces scar formation.
GHK-Cu Peptide promotes collagen production by chondrocytes leading to bone growth and formation. It also provides copper for angiogenesis in tissues. The peptide improves differentiation and proliferation of axons within neurons, blocks ferritin channels, and releases oxidative iron after tissue injury, thus blocking iron-catalyzed lipid peroxidation that occurs after injury. Therefore, copper-peptide-induced tissue repair works for skin, hair follicles, stomach lining, intestinal lining, bone tissue, hooves, and fingernails.
What have Research Studies Shown?
Scientific work has shown that GHK-Cu Peptide affects the following:
-Hair growth restoration
-Facial cosmetic use
GHK-Cu Peptide in Research (Expanded)
Wound Healing and Infection Control:
The peptide causes better wound contraction, faster granular tissue development, and improved angiogenesis to reinstate blood flow to damaged tissue. Systemic injection of the peptide promotes healing, and its introduction into the muscle helps repair at distant sites. The peptide could potentially be a valuable therapy given to individuals after surgery to promote wound healing, pain alleviation, and prevent infection.
A study on the peptide and its interaction with TNF-alpha and pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 in human fibroblasts showed that GHK-Cu Peptide significantly reduced inflammation. Hence, the peptide can be used for systemic injections and topically applied therapy in the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis. It was also found to control erythema caused by UV sunlight.
Hair Growth Restoration
The peptide has been found to have the same efficacy as 5% minoxidil, one of the most commonly used medications in the restoration of hair growth.
A commercial product known as GraftCyte, which contains GHK-Cu Peptide, was clinically proven to improve the outcome of hair transplantation surgeries and healing. It was proven to promote collagen production within hair follicles.
It is an active ingredient of anti-aging creams as it causes skin firming, anti-aging, and anti-wrinkle activity. One of the clinical studies proved GHK-Cu Peptide to be better than vitamin C and retinoic acid in increasing collagen in photoaged skin.
The peptide promotes cognitive health. It increases the migration of hematogenous cells into collagen tubes, produces nerve growth factors, increases the expression of integrins, and enhances the regeneration rate of myelinated nerve fibers. Schwann cells and axon count were also found to be increased.
A human gene expression study was performed to determine the effects of the peptide in gene expression as the peptide declines with age. It was found to induce a 50% or greater chance of expression in 31.2% of human genes affecting multiple biochemical pathways in organs and tissues, including the nervous system. Thus, treatment by GHK-Cu Peptide could impact the expression of fundamental proteins in your body.
GHK-Cu has been recommended for the treatment of metastatic cancer. Gene control is an exciting domain of medicine, especially in cancer therapy. Higher tissue copper keeps the cells younger, and GHK-Cu helps to mediate this effect.
The peptide has been found to protect the lungs from acute injury and fibrosis. It prevents damage due to reactive oxygen species (ROS), increased superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, and inflammatory cytokines.
Studies have also shown that treatment of GHK-Cu Peptide reduces inflammatory cell infiltration and interstitial thickness in subjects with pulmonary fibrosis. It significantly enhances collagen deposition, imbalances in lung tissue and reduces TNF-alpha and IL-6 in the alveolar fluid. Thus, the peptide shows a strong indication for the treatment of a variety of lung diseases.
Disclaimer: The products mentioned are not for human or animal consumption. All the information shared in this article is for educational purposes only.
Dr. Usman (BSc, MBBS, MaRCP) completed his studies in medicine at the Royal College of Physicians, London. He is an avid researcher with more than 30 publications in internationally recognized peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Usman has worked as a researcher and a medical consultant for reputable pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi.