What is GHK-Cu peptide?
GHK-Cu is a naturally prevalent peptide that was first purified from human blood plasma. Henceforth, it has been identified in saliva and urine as well. As per studies on GHK-Cu, the peptide displays a significantly beneficial role in the body’s wound healing and immune functions. The peptide further has anti-aging properties, promotes protein synthesis, inhibits free-radical damage, controls bacterial infections and increases the health of skin fibroblasts, and skin.
Molecular Formula: C14H24N6O4
Molecular Weight: 340.38 g/mol
PubChem: CID 73587
CAS Number: 89030-95-5
1. GHK-Cu and Skin Healing
GHK-Cu is a natural component of human blood and, as such, has been found to play an integral role in skin regeneration pathways. Research in skin cultures has found that GHK stimulates the synthesis as well as breaking down of collagen, glycosaminoglycans, and other extracellular matrix components like proteoglycans and chondroitin sulfate. The effect is partially mediated through the positive effects of GHK-Cu recruitment on fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and immune cells. The peptide attracts these cells to the wound site and coordinates their activity in repairing the damage.
GHK-Cu happens to be a common ingredient in skincare and cosmetic products. It not only improves the elasticity of the skin but also mediates skin tightening and firming. It further protects the skin against damage due to sunlight. It also reduces hyperpigmentation and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Modulation of collagen synthesis by GHK-Cu is important in reducing the appearance of scars, preventing hypertrophic healing, smoothening rough skin, and repairing the structure of aged skin. These roles of GHK-Cu are mediated partially via its ability to boost the expression of transforming growth factor Beta. It is likely that the peptide works through various biochemical pathways and modifies gene expression.
Studies in mice show that GHK-Cu increases the rate of wound healing in burn patients to the extent of about 33%. The peptide not only recruits immune cells and fibroblasts to sites of injury but also promotes the development of new blood vessels at these sites. Burnt skin often regrows blood vessels slowly because of the cauterization effect. Thus, these observations open up a new option for improving wound care in burn units for hastening the healing process.
2. Cognition and Nervous System Function
The mechanism behind neuronal death, which occurs in degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s is poorly understood. This limits the development of effective treatments making the existing regimens only partly beneficial. Studies have shown that GHK-Cu can inhibit the age-associated loss in neuronal function, which is involved in such diseases.
The molecule has been shown to enhance angiogenesis in the nervous system, stimulate nerve outgrowth, and decrease inflammation in the central nervous system. There is further evidence that it can alter the expression profiles of pathological genes and helps to reset a state of health in dysfunctional systems.
GHK-Cu expression is high in the brain and decreases with age. Scientists believe that GHK-Cu is possibly neuroprotective against natural insults like gene dysregulation. Further, one school of thought believes that it is the age-related decline in GHK-Cu, and not the initiation of new disease processes that mediates neurodegeneration.
The peptide has been observed to protect neurons in rat brains from apoptosis through the well-known miR-339-59/VEGFA pathway, which is active after brain bleeds and stroke. In the rat models, GHK-Cu improves the neurological deficits in the brain, reduces swelling, and prevents neuronal death that is commonly brought about by overexpression of miR-339-5p.
3. GHK-Cu and Bacteria
Invasion of foreign pathogens is the primary reason behind both delayed healing of wounds and absence of healing. Bacterial and fungal infections are specifically dangerous in burn patients and those with compromised immune systems (e.g., diabetes, HIV patients). However, GHK-Cu in combination with certain fatty acids creates a strong antimicrobial compound that works against a number of bacteria and fungi known to interfere with the process of wound healing.
Research in diabetic patients has shown that GHK-Cu by itself is more effective than standard care regimens in the treatment of diabetic ulcers. Patients treated with a combination of standard care and GHK-Cu demonstrate a 40% increase in wound closure and a 27% reduction in infection rates as opposed to control groups. Similar results have also been obtained from studies in patients with ischemic open wounds.
4. Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Studies in murine models have shown that GHK-Cu can protect the lungs against fibrosis, a common after-effect seen in patients of cancer treated with bleomycin. Therefore, GHK-Cu can be used as a chemotherapy adjuvant which helps to increase the doses of the chemotherapeutic drugs but keeps their adverse effects under control. The study has also explored the mechanistic action of the peptide. It has been observed to modulate TNF-alpha and IL-6 levels, both of which function as inflammatory molecules and affect the extracellular matrix and smooth muscles of the lungs. The drug reduces lung inflammation, thereby enhancing collagen production and preventing fibrotic remodeling.
GHK-Cu was also found to be effective in treating mouse models of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), an inflammatory lung condition that can aggravate very fast and be fatal. ARDS is linked with injury, infection, and use of certain chemotherapeutic drugs. Once again, the underlying mechanism of the peptide action is by decreasing the expression of TNF-alpha and IL-6.
5. GHK-Cu Peptide and Pain Reduction
In rat models, the use of GHK-Cu has a dose-dependent effect on pain-induced behavior. The peptide demonstrates analgesic effects mediated through increased levels of the natural painkiller L-lysine. Similar studies have proven the ability of the peptide to also enhance levels of L-arginine, another analgesic amino acid. These findings highlight alternate mechanisms for pain alleviation that do not rely on addictive opiate drugs or NSAIDs, which are detrimental to the heart.
In conclusion, GHK-Cu exhibits minimal side effects, low oral bioavailability and excellent subcutaneous bioavailability in mice. However, per kg dosage in mice does not match up to humans.