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Research in BPC-157 and the Digestive and Nervous Systems
BPC-157 is a pentadecapeptide made of 15 amino acids and bears the sequence Gly-Glu-Pro-Pro-Pro-Gly-Lys-Pro-Ala-Asp-Asp-Ala-Gly-Leu-Val, and a molecular formula of C62H98N16O22. This is a fully synthetic peptide with a sequence not known to occur in nature. However, it is often termed a “gut peptide,” as it is suggested to have similar structure and properties to other gastroprotective peptides found in human gastric juice.
According to the patent, the peptide’s production is fully synthetic and derived from various organic and inorganic bases. BPC stands for ‘Body Protection Compound.’ It appears to be relatively stable in stomach acid (ex vivo) compared to other peptides.
Animal studies indicate the peptide’s potential to modulate the healing of various tissues, including tendons, joints, nerves, the intestinal tract, and skin. BPC-157 likely works via various pathways, including anti-inflammatory effects, modulated nitric oxide synthesis, increased growth factor synthesis, and activation of cells involved in tissue repair.
BPC-157 and the digestive system
BPC-157 is under investigation for its potential to protect against and treat ulcers in the gastrointestinal system. Animal studies reveal that the peptide has significant protective effects against medications such as cyclophosphamide and haloperidol, which are known to cause stomach ulcers.[1,2] Sikiric et al. report that “superior protection against different gastrointestinal and liver lesions and anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities were noted for pentadecapeptide BPC.”
Researchers also suggest that these protective effects are likely related to the effects of BPC-157 on the alpha-adrenergic (e.g., catecholamine release) and dopaminergic (central) systems. Blocking the alpha-adrenergic or dopamine receptors significantly reduces the effectiveness of BPC-157 against ulcerations.
The peptide may also work by stimulating the synthesis of growth factors in the intestinal cells that cover the digestive system. Another laboratory trial reports that BPC-157 has also been found to stimulate the mRNA of the growth factor EGR-1.
As a result, experiments in rats report that BPC-157 speeds up the healing of surgical injuries in the gastrointestinal system, specifically esophagogastric anastomosis healing.
Animal models with short-bowel syndrome also report that the peptide may help prevent weight loss and increase the ability of the bowels to absorb nutrients.[5,6]
The researchers report constant weight gain and increased villus height, crypt depth, and muscle thickness of the small intestines. Furthermore, the scientists report that “BPC 157 completely ameliorated symptoms in massive intestinal resection.”
Because of its interactions with various neurotransmitters, scientists have also investigated its effects on serotonin production. According to preliminary research BPC-157 may have beneficial effects on serotonin synthesis.
Serotonin is a major neurotransmitter in the brain that also plays a role in the gut-brain axis. It is thought to be dysregulated in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and related conditions.
BPC-157 and the nervous system
Rat studies report that BPC-175 may significantly increase serotonin synthesis in several brain regions, including the “substantia nigra reticulata and medial anterior olfactory nucleus,” taking only 40 minutes for BPC-157 to exert these effects.
Considering serotonin is one of the primary neurotransmitters which are involved in depression and anxiety, these effects may hold promise for affecting such conditions. One trial in rats reported that BPC-157 had potent antidepressant properties when the animals were exposed to acute or chronic stress.
BPC-157 may also help ameliorate damage to the brain by various chemicals. According to one experiment which used cuprizone to induce brain damage and nerve demyelination like those observed in multiple sclerosis (MS), BPC-157 had potent protective effects. BPC-157 reduced the number of damaged cells in numerous brain regions, including the hippocampus. The protective effects against demyelination may also hold promise for potential benefits in MS.
Another study that used a toxin to induce damage, like what is seen in Parkinson’s Disease in rodents, reports that BPC-157 also exerts potent protective effects.
BPC-157 and skin, bones, and joints
BPC-157 may have benefits that extend beyond the gastrointestinal and nervous systems, such as stimulating the healing of the skin, bones, joints, tendons, and other tissues.
These possible effects could be due to the ability of BPC-157 to stimulate the formation of new blood vessels. By stimulating angiogenesis, BPC-157 may increase the supply of tissues with nutrients and growth factors.
According to one study in rats with injured limbs, the scientists noted an increase in VEGFR2 expression, which was much more significant compared to controls. Hsieh et al. also noted that “BPC 157 accelerates the blood flow recovery and vessel number in rats with hind limb ischemia.”
In tendon and joint injuries, BPC-157 may also speed up the recovery of connective tissues by upregulating fibroblast function. In vitro experiments note that BPC-157 may allow tendon fibroblasts to grow and spread faster.
The researchers note that the effect was present only when the fibroblasts were replanted in vivo but not when they remained ex vivo.
Another experiment also reported increased wound healing benefits in rats after injuries induced via surgical cuts. The researchers hypothesized that BPC-157 could significantly increase the rate of injury healing when compared to the control.
BPC-157 is a novel pentadecapeptide that is fully synthetic, and there are no known natural analogs of its sequence. However, it is supposedly a fragment from another gastroprotective protein in human gastric juices.
It is currently under active investigation for its potential healing effects on the gastrointestinal system, nervous system, and peripheral organs, including skin, cartilage, and tendons.
Currently, the research is only in vitro and in animals. There cannot be any conclusions about the safety of the peptide. Yet, animal studies report excellent tolerability towards BPC-157, and no evident toxicity has been noted amongst the tested subjects.
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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.