The copper binding tripeptide GHK (glycyl-l-histidyl-l-lysine) is a naturally occurring plasma peptide that significantly declines during human aging. It has been established that GHK:Copper(2+) improves wound healing and tissue regeneration and stimulates collagen and decorin production. GHK-Cu also supports angiogenesis and nerve outgrowth, improves the condition of aging skin and hair, and possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, it increases cellular stemness and secretion of trophic factors by mesenchymal stem cells. GHK’s antioxidant actions have been demonstrated in vitro
and in animal studies. They include blocking the formation of reactive oxygen and carbonyl species, detoxifying toxic products of lipid peroxidation such as acrolein, protecting keratinocytes from lethal Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, and blocking hepatic damage by dichloromethane radicals. In recent studies, GHK has been found to switch gene expression from a diseased state to a healthier state for certain cancers and for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Broad Institute’s Connectivity Map indicated that GHK induces a 50% or greater change of expression in 31.2% of human genes. This paper reviews biological data demonstrating positive effects of GHK in skin and proposes interaction with antioxidant-related genes as a possible explanation of its antioxidant activity.
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