Pal-AHK, also called Palmitoyl Tripeptide-3, is a synthetic peptide comprised of three amino acids linked to a palmitoyl fatty acid residue. It is used individually or in combination with other peptides to boost collagen synthesis in laboratory experiments examining aging and skin. Pal-AHK is thought to interact with transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) to activate fibroblasts.
Sequence (Three-Letter Code): Palmitoyl-Ala-His-Lys
Molecular formula: C31H56N6O5
Molecular weight: 592.80 g/mol
Pal-AHK is being actively investigated in animal models for its ability to boost hair growth, accelerate wound healing, and fight off some of the effects that aging has on the skin. It is under intense study in the cosmeceutical industry for its ability to tighten skin, boost collagen production, and increase the rate at which skin rejuvenates .
What Is Pal-AHK?
Pal-AHK is a synthetic peptide in which AHK (alanine-histidine-lysine) has been linked to a palmitoyl fatty acid molecule. The fatty acid makes AHK more fat soluble, which not only increases its skin penetration, but actually increases the absorption of the molecule by cells. Once in the cell, Pal-AHK is thought to activate fibroblasts by stimulating TGF-β.
What Does Pal-AHK Do?
Animal studies indicate that Pal-AHK can activate fibroblasts and thus increase the rate of extracellular matrix (ECM) production in the skin. The ECM is composed of a number of molecules, with collagen and elastin being the most abundant in many cases. By boosting ECM production, Pal-AHK increases collagen and elastin levels within the skin. This, in turn, improves skin appearance and strength [2,3].
There is also some evidence, from benchtop experiments, that Pal-AHK can influence the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF is an important signaling molecule in the production of new blood vessels. By encouraging blood vessel growth in the skin, Pal-AHK has demonstrated increased skin rejuvenation and hair growth in animal models.
Pal-AHK Research on Wrinkles
Animal studies have demonstrated relatively profound effects with Pal-AHK and wrinkles. AHK is a well-known fibroblast stimulator and has been shown to boost collagen synthesis in human skin cells grown in the lab. By adding palmitoyl to AHK, researchers have been able to demonstrate enhanced skin penetration in animal models as well as enhanced cell membrane penetration. In other words, palmitoyl helps AHK reach deeper into the skin and penetrate the cells where it can have the greatest effect. This leads to improved collagen synthesis at all levels and thus greater overall effects. Research indicates that Pal-AHK can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve the appearance of age spots, even out skin tone, improve skin texture, and improve skin smoothness in animal models.
1. Łubkowska, B., Grobelna, B. & Maćkiewicz, Z. The use of synthetic polypeptides in cosmetics. Copernic. Lett. 1, 75 (2010).
2. Gorouhi, F. & Maibach, H. I. Role of topical peptides in preventing or treating aged skin. Int. J. Cosmet. Sci. 31, 327–345 (2009).
3. Lourith, N. & Kanlayavattanakul, M. Biopolymeric agents for skin wrinkle treatment. J. Cosmet. Laser Ther. 18, 301–310 (2016).