The peptide Gly-His-Lys (GHK) is a naturally occurring copper(II)-chelating motifs in human serum and cerebrospinal fluid. In industry, GHK (with or without copper) is used to make hair and skin care products. Copper-GHK plays a physiological role in the process of wound healing and tissue repair by stimulating collagen synthesis in fibroblasts.
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.
Pickart, L., Vasquez-Soltero, J. M., & Margolina, A. (2015). GHK peptide as a natural modulator of multiple cellular pathways in skin regeneration. BioMed research international, 2015.
Neurodegeneration, the progressive death of neurons, loss of brain function, and cognitive decline is an increasing problem for senior populations. Its causes are poorly understood and therapies are largely ineffective. Neurons, with high energy and oxygen requirements, are especially vulnerable to detrimental factors, including age-related dysregulation of biochemical pathways caused by altered expression of multiple genes. GHK (glycyl-l-histidyl-l-lysine) is a human copper-binding peptide with biological actions that appear to counter aging-associated diseases and conditions. GHK, which declines with age, has health promoting effects on many tissues such as chondrocytes, liver cells and human fibroblasts, improves wound healing and tissue regeneration (skin, hair follicles, stomach and intestinal linings, boney tissue), increases collagen, decorin, angiogenesis, and nerve outgrowth, possesses anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-pain and anti-anxiety effects, increases cellular stemness and the secretion of trophic factors by mesenchymal stem cells. Studies using the Broad Institute Connectivity Map show that GHK peptide modulates expression of multiple genes, resetting pathological gene expression patterns back to health. GHK has been recommended as a treatment for metastatic cancer, Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, inflammation, acute lung injury, activating stem cells, pain, and anxiety. Here, we present GHK’s effects on gene expression relevant to the nervous system health and function.
Pickart, L., Vasquez-Soltero, J. M., & Margolina, A. (2017). The Effect of the Human Peptide GHK on Gene Expression Relevant to Nervous System Function and Cognitive Decline. Brain sciences, 7(2), 20.