Copper Peptide GHK-Cu - NutraHacker Journal Club

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The human tri-peptide GHK and tissue remodeling

Tissue remodeling follows the initial phase of wound healing and stops inflammatory and scar-forming processes, then restores the normal tissue morphology. The human peptide Gly-(L-His)-(L-Lys) or GHK, has a copper 2+ (Cu(2+)) affinity similar to the copper transport site on albumin and forms GHK-Cu, a complex with Cu(2+). These two molecules activate a plethora of remodeling related processes: (1) chemoattraction of repair cells such as macrophages, mast cells, capillary cells; (2) anti-inflammatory actions (suppression of free radicals, thromboxane formation, release of oxidizing iron, transforming growth factor beta-1, tumor necrosis factor alpha and protein glycation while increasing superoxide dismutase, vessel vasodilation, blocking ultraviolet damage to skin keratinocytes and improving fibroblast recovery after X-ray treatments); (3) increases protein synthesis of collagen, elastin, metalloproteinases, anti-proteases, vascular endothelial growth factor, fibroblast growth factor 2, nerve growth factor, neutrotropins 3 and 4, and erythropoietin; (4) increases the proliferation of fibroblasts and keratinocytes; nerve outgrowth, angiogenesis, and hair follicle size. GHK-Cu stimulates wound healing in numerous models and in humans. Controlled studies on aged skin demonstrated that it tightens skin, improves elasticity and firmness, reduces fine lines, wrinkles, photodamage and hyperpigmentation. GHK-Cu also improves hair transplant success, protects hepatic tissue from tetrachloromethane poisoning, blocks stomach ulcer development, and heals intestinal ulcers and bone tissue. These results are beginning to define the complex biochemical processes that regulate tissue remodeling.

In vivo stimulation of connective tissue accumulation by the tripeptide-copper complex glycyl-L-histidyl-L-lysine-Cu2+ in rat experimental wounds

The tripeptide-copper complex glycyl-L-histidyl-L-lysine-Cu2+ (GHK-Cu) was first described as a growth factor for differentiated cells. Recent in vitro data showed that it possesses several properties of a potential activator of wound repair. We investigated the effects of GHK-Cu in vivo, using the wound chamber model described previously (Schilling, J.A., W. Joel, and M.T. Shurley, 1959. Surgery [St. Louis]. 46:702-710). Stainless steel wire mesh cylinders were implanted subcutaneously on the back of rats. The animals were divided into groups that received sequential injections into the wound chamber of either saline (control group) or various concentrations of GHK-Cu. At the end of the experiments, rats were killed, wound chambers were collected, and their content was analyzed for dry weight, total proteins, collagen, DNA, elastin, glycosaminoglycans, and specific mRNAs for collagens and TGF beta. In the GHK-Cu-injected wound chambers, a concentration-dependent increase of dry weight, DNA, total protein, collagen, and glycosaminoglycan contents was found. The stimulation of collagen synthesis was twice that of noncollagen proteins. Type I and type III collagen mRNAs were increased but not TGF beta mRNAs. An increase of the relative amount of dermatan sulfate was also found. A control tripeptide, L-glutamyl-L-histidyl-L-proline, had no significant effect. These results demonstrate that GHK-Cu is able to increase extracellular matrix accumulation in wounds in vivo.

GHK Peptide as a Natural Modulator of Multiple Cellular Pathways in Skin Regeneration

GHK (glycyl-L-histidyl-L-lysine) is present in human plasma, saliva, and urine but declines with age. It is proposed that GHK functions as a complex with copper 2+ which accelerates wound healing and skin repair. GHK stimulates both synthesis and breakdown of collagen and glycosaminoglycans and modulates the activity of both metalloproteinases and their inhibitors. It stimulates collagen, dermatan sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and the small proteoglycan, decorin. It also restores replicative vitality to fibroblasts after radiation therapy. The molecule attracts immune and endothelial cells to the site of an injury. It accelerates wound-healing of the skin, hair follicles, gastrointestinal tract, boney tissue, and foot pads of dogs. It also induces systemic wound healing in rats, mice, and pigs. In cosmetic products, it has been found to tighten loose skin and improve elasticity, skin density, and firmness, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, reduce photodamage, and hyperpigmentation, and increase keratinocyte proliferation. GHK has been proposed as a therapeutic agent for skin inflammation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and metastatic colon cancer. It is capable of up- and downregulating at least 4,000 human genes, essentially resetting DNA to a healthier state. The present review revisits GHK's role in skin regeneration in the light of recent discoveries.

Microneedle-Mediated Delivery of Copper Peptide Through Skin

Purpose: Copper peptide (GHK-Cu) plays an important role in skin regeneration and wound healing. However, its skin absorption remains challenging due to its hydrophilicity. Here we use polymeric microneedle array to pre-treat skin to enhance GHK-Cu skin penetration. Methods: Two in vitro skin models were used to assess the capability of microneedles in facilitating skin delivery of GHK-Cu. Histological assay and confocal laser scanning microscopy were performed to characterize and quantify the microconduits created by the microneedles inside skin. Cellular and porcine models were used to evaluate the safety of microneedle-assisted copper peptide delivery. Results: The depth and percentage of microneedle penetration were correlated with application forces, which in turn influenced the extent of enhancement in the skin permeability of GHK-Cu. In 9 h, 134 ± 12 nanomoles of peptide and 705 ± 84 nanomoles of copper permeated though the microneedle treated human skin, while almost no peptide or copper permeated through intact human skin. No obvious signs of skin irritation were observed with the use of GHK-Cu after microneedle pretreatment. Conclusions: It is effective and safe to enhance the skin permeation of GHK-Cu by using microneedles. This approach may be useful to deliver similar peptides or minerals through skin.

The potential of GHK as an anti-aging peptide

GHK (glycyl-L-histidyl-L-lysine) is a naturally occurring peptide found in human serum with levels averaging 200 ng/ml at age 20 but declining to an average of 80 ng/ml by age 60. The molecule has a very high affinity for copper and forms the chelate GHK-Cu. The peptide as well as its Cu (II) chelate have anti-inflammatory and tissue remodeling properties. GHK-Cu has been shown to promote skin remodeling, wound healing and regeneration, and has prominent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in in vitro and in vivo studies. In addition, preliminary observations suggest GHK can partially reverse cognitive impairment in aging mice by targeting anti-inflammatory and epigenetic pathways. The evidence as presented provides the rationale to further investigate this naturally occurring peptide in preclinical and clinical aging studies.

Regenerative and Protective Actions of the GHK-Cu Peptide in the Light of the New Gene Data

The human peptide GHK (glycyl-l-histidyl-l-lysine) has multiple biological actions, all of which, according to our current knowledge, appear to be health positive. It stimulates blood vessel and nerve outgrowth, increases collagen, elastin, and glycosaminoglycan synthesis, as well as supports the function of dermal fibroblasts. GHK’s ability to improve tissue repair has been demonstrated for skin, lung connective tissue, boney tissue, liver, and stomach lining. GHK has also been found to possess powerful cell protective actions, such as multiple anti-cancer activities and anti-inflammatory actions, lung protection and restoration of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) fibroblasts, suppression of molecules thought to accelerate the diseases of aging such as NFκB, anti-anxiety, anti-pain and anti-aggression activities, DNA repair, and activation of cell cleansing via the proteasome system. Recent genetic data may explain such diverse protective and healing actions of one molecule, revealing multiple biochemical pathways regulated by GHK.

The human tripeptide GHK-Cu in prevention of oxidative stress and degenerative conditions of aging: implications for cognitive health

Oxidative stress, disrupted copper homeostasis, and neuroinflammation due to overproduction of proinflammatory cytokines are considered leading causative factors in development of age-associated neurodegenerative conditions. Recently, a new mechanism of aging-detrimental epigenetic modifications-has emerged. Thus, compounds that possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory activity as well as compounds capable of restoring copper balance and proper gene functioning may be able to prevent age-associated cognitive decline and ward off many common neurodegenerative conditions. The aim of this paper is to bring attention to a compound with a long history of safe use in wound healing and antiaging skin care. The human tripeptide GHK was discovered in 1973 as an activity in human albumin that caused old human liver tissue to synthesize proteins like younger tissue. It has high affinity for copper ions and easily forms a copper complex or GHK-Cu. In addition, GHK possesses a plethora of other regenerative and protective actions including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and wound healing properties. Recent studies revealed its ability to up- and downregulate a large number of human genes including those that are critical for neuronal development and maintenance. We propose GHK tripeptide as a possible therapeutic agent against age-associated neurodegeneration and cognitive decline.

The tripeptide-copper complex glycyl-L-histidyl-L-lysine-Cu2+ stimulates matrix metalloproteinase-2 expression by fibroblast cultures

Glycyl-histidyl-lysine-Cu2+ (GHK-Cu) is a tripeptide-copper complex known to be a potent wound healing agent. We previously showed its ability to stimulate in vitro and in vivo the synthesis of extracellular matrix components. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of GHK-Cu on MMP-2 synthesis by dermal fibroblasts in culture. We showed that GHK-Cu increased MMP-2 levels in conditioned media of cultured fibroblasts. This effect was reproduced by copper ions but not by the tripeptide GHK alone. This stimulation was accompanied by an increase of MMP-2 mRNA level. We also showed that GHK-Cu increased the secretion of the tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases, TIMP-1 and TIMP-2. Taken together, our results underline that GHK-Cu is not only an activator of connective tissue production but also of the remodeling of the extracellular matrix. It is able to modulate MMP expression by acting directly on wound fibroblasts.

A therapeutic approach for diabetic wound healing using biotinylated GHK incorporated collagen matrices

Chronically elevated blood glucose levels result in reduced leukocyte function and cell malnutrition, which contribute to a high rate of wound infection and associated healing problems in diabetic patients. In the present study, the role of biotinylated GHK peptide (BioGHK) incorporated collagen biomaterial was tested for wound healing in diabetic rats. The rate of wound contraction and the levels of collagen, uronic acid, protein and DNA in the granulation tissue were determined. Further, the concentration of nitric oxide and other skin antioxidants was also monitored during the study. In diabetic rats treated with BioGHK incorporated collagen (Peptide Incorporated Collagen--PIC), the healing process was hastened with an increased rate of wound contraction. Glutathione (GSH) and ascorbic acid levels in the skin of streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats were higher in the PIC group as compared to control (Untreated) and collagen (Collagen Film--CF) treated groups. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) activity was altered in all the groups. In vitro fibroblast cell culture studies suggest that PIC promotes fibroblast growth. Histological evaluation by haematoxylin-eosin and Masson's trichrome method revealed epithelialization, increased synthesis of collagen and activation of fibroblasts and mast cells in the PIC group. This study provides a rationale for the topical application of BioGHK incorporated collagen as a feasible and productive approach to support diabetic wound healing.

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