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GHK-Cu Research

“product By Richard A. 3 years ago

GHK-Cu Research

GHK-Cu is a naturally occurring peptide, made of the three amino acids Glycine-Histidine-Lysine, that is complexed with a copper molecule. It was first isolated from human plasma (a part of blood), but can also be found in saliva and urine. It has been linked to skin and tissue healing as well as to immune function and antioxidant generation. Like many natural anti-aging compounds, tissue levels of GHK-Cu tend to drop as humans age, from a high of about 200 micrograms per milliliter at age 20 to a low of 80 micrograms per milliliter by age 601.

GHK-Cu and Skin Healing

About a decade ago, research studies revealed that GHK-Cu is involved in wound healing and in the regulation of scar formation. The list of processes that research has shown GHK-Cu to be involved in includes

  1. Attracting cells that are involved in the repair process,
  2. Suppressing free radicals,
  3. Reducing inflammation by boosting levels of key anti-inflammatory molecules,
  4. Increasing protein synthesis, and
  5. Increasing fibroblast growth and differentiation1.

Research from 2014 suggests that GHK-Cu may play an important role in regulating levels of transforming growth factor-β and insulin-like growth factor-2. By increasing levels of TGF-β and decreasing levels of IGF-2, GHK-Cu is able to improve skin healing while reducing the formation of hypertrophic scars2.

Controlled studies of GHK-Cu and aging skin in animals indicate that the peptide tightens skin, improves firmness, boosts elasticity, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, and helps to resolve photo damage. More recent research has also indicated that GHK-Cu can protect the liver from toxins, boost bone growth, and protect gastrointestinal tissue from ulcer formation. Now, it turns out, GHK-Cu also plays a role in protecting against microbial invaders.

Antimicrobial Activity of GHK-Cu

Research published in 2015 explains that GHK-Cu can combine with other molecules, primarily fatty acids, to produce antimicrobial compounds with strong to moderate activity. In some cases, the compounds produced are more effective antimicrobials than prescription antibiotics. Activity against common bacteria such as Stappylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli has been documented3.

Not only were the compounds active against bacteria, they also showed anti-fungal activity as well. These tests were carried out in vitro, but the research suggests that GHK-Cu compounds may be useful in preventing infections in serious skin wounds, such as burns.

GHK-Cu Delivery Mechanisms

One of the challenges of topical antimicrobials is how they are delivered. While creams and ointments can be effective, they are not always capable of penetrating as deep as necessary. New research using micro-needle delivery of GHK-Cu in in vitro skin models indicates that it is a safe and effective means of getting the compound to the tissues where it can be most effective. This can be done without obvious skin irritation, meaning that it may be a useful mechanism for even the most sensitive of situations4. This kind of local delivery can help to ensure high tissue concentrations where necessary while avoiding any side effects (though there appear to be few where GHK-Cu is concerned).


1. Pickart, L. The human tri-peptide GHK and tissue remodeling. J. Biomater. Sci. Polym. Ed. 19, 969–988 (2008).

2. Gruchlik, A., Chodurek, E. & Dzierzewicz, Z. Effect of GLY-HIS-LYS and its copper complex on TGF-β secretion in normal human dermal fibroblasts. Acta Pol. Pharm. 71, 954–958 (2014).

3. Kukowska, M., Kukowska-Kaszuba, M. & Dzierzbicka, K. In vitro studies of antimicrobial activity of Gly-His-Lys conjugates as potential and promising candidates for therapeutics in skin and tissue infections. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 25, 542–546 (2015).

4. Li, H. et al. Microneedle-Mediated Delivery of Copper Peptide Through Skin. Pharm. Res. 32, 2678–2689 (2015).

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