GHK-Cu is a naturally produced peptide which decline with age and is one of the peptides used as an anti aging treatment with regard to its production of collagen and helping skin aging and hair loss. It has exhibited anti cancer activity.                

GHK (glycyl-l-histidyl-l-lysine) has multiple biological actions which are beneficial to health. It stimulates new blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) and nerve outgrowth in healing tissues. It can increase collagen synthesis and supports the function of dermal fibroblasts crucial to natural skin regeneration. GHK’s ability to improve tissue repair has been demonstrated for lung connective tissue, boney tissue, and the liver, as well as the skin. GHK has also been found to possess anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory actions, and it is protective of lung protection via its ability to restore pulmonary fibroblasts.

GHK-Cu can diminish molecules in the body which are thought to accelerate aging. It can assist DNA repair, and activation of cell cleansing. It has demonstrated anti-anxiety, anti-pain and anti-aggression activities.

Since its discovery in 1973, GHK-Cu has been shown to have protective and regenerative properties which are currently widely used in skin and hair products.

Studies have established that GHK-Cu is able to:

  • Tighten loose skin and reverse the thinning of aging skin
  • Improve skin firmness, elasticity, and clarity
  • Reduce fine lines, the depth of wrinkles, and improve the  structure of aged skin
  • Smooth rough skin
  • Reduce photodamage, mottled hyperpigmentation, and skin spots
  • Improve overall skin appearance
  • Stimulate wound healing
  • Protect skin cells from UV radiation
  • Reduce inflammation and free radical damage
  • Increase hair growth and thickness, and enlarge hair follicle size


GHK Improves Skin Regeneration

With age, the skin’s ability to repair damage declines. GHK content is highest in the plasma of young, healthy individuals. Between the ages of twenty and sixty natural plasma levels of GHK declines more than 50%.

A number of experiments established that GHK stimulates the synthesis of collagen, and glycosaminoglycans . It exerts a regulatory effect on protein breakdown in skin, helping to prevent the buildup of damaged proteins. Since excessive breakdown of the dermal matrix as well as inadequate removal of damaged proteins can negatively affect skin’s health and appearance, GHK’s regulating ability can support skin regeneration and improve its appearance.

GHK also demonstrated beneficial effects on skin fibroblasts, which are considered key cells in the skin regeneration process. Fibroblasts not only synthesize structural elements of the dermal matrix but also produce a wide range of growth factors essential for skin repair.


Cosmetic Uses of GHK-Cu

Many clinical studies have confirmed GHK-Cu’s ability to improve the  appearance of aging skin. In one study of 71 women subjects, facial cream containing GHK-Cu was applied for 12 weeks to the facial skin of women with mild to advanced signs of photoaging. The result was reduced loose skin, improved clarity, reduced fine lines and the depth of wrinkles.

In another study GHK-Cu eye cream was applied for 12 weeks to around-the-eye area of 41 women with mild to advanced photodamage. It reduced lines and wrinkles, improved overall appearance, and increased skin density and thickness. 

In yet another study GHK-Cu applied was applied to thigh skin for 12 weeks and was shown to improve collagen production in 70% of the women treated, in contrast to 50% treated with the vitamin C cream, and 40% treated with retinoic acid. Again the results showed improvement in skin laxity, clarity, firmness and appearance, and reducing fine lines, coarse wrinkles.


 Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Actions

In experimental models the treatment of wounds with GHK leads to elevated levels of antioxidant enzymes. GHK itself possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. GHK inactivated damaging free radical by-products of lipid peroxidation. GHK also prevents damaging effects of lipid peroxidation.  


Skin Remodeling and Anti-Cancer Actions

A concern for any substance, which activates cell growth and tissue remodeling—is whether it can also trigger cancer. Therefore, it is very important to note that GHK, which repairs skin, also possesses potent anti-cancer properties.

In 2010, one  study used Broad Institute’s Connectivity Map to find molecules that could inhibit metastatic colon cancer. They evaluated five cancer cell lines response to 1,309 bioactive molecules. It was found that  only two substances were able to down-regulate expression of “metastatic” genes. Those were  GHK and the plant alkaloid, securinin. GHK suppresses RNA production in 70% of the  54 human genes overexpressed in cancer patients.

UV-radiation and other damaging factors can damage skin cells’ DNA, which can potentially lead to skin cancer. One of the main protective mechanisms is apoptosis or programmed cell death. Normal healthy skin cells have checkpoint systems to self-destruct if they are synthesizing DNA incorrectly. When apoptosis is inhibited, skin cancer risk greatly increases. Also, apoptosis is the mechanism through which many anti-cancer treatments, including melanoma treatments, work.

In 1983, using a method developed by Linus Pauling’s group [5], we tested the mixture of GHK-copper 2+ plus ascorbic acid (vitamin C) on the growth of sarcoma-180 in mice. This combination had a very strong anti-cancer suppressive effect.

GHK possesses a wide range of health-promoting actions. As more studies are done even greater applications of its therapeutic effects are coming to light.

GHK is a safe, inexpensive, extensively studied compound that has a wealth of positive and health-promoting effects in many tissues and systems. It has been widely used in anti-aging and cosmetic products in humans for decades without any adverse effects, and can be easily incorporated in creams, or delivered through microneedles.. Based on both biological and gene data, GHK also has the potential to be developed into an anti-anxiety and anti-pain supplemental treatment, and it may be an essential component in the future incorporated into to COPD treatment.

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