Numerous skincare products based on copper-peptide complexes are increasingly finding clinical and cosmeceutical uses. The biological basis for these actions is GHK (Tripeptide-1), a peptide generated during tissue damage with a very high affinity for copper (Cu2+).
GHK-Cu is also a regular constituent in human plasma existing at approximately 200 ng/ml at age 20 and dropping to 80 ng/ml at age 60. At hormonal levels, Copper Tripeptide-1 acts as a chemoattractant for fibroblasts (repairing cells) and activates a plethora of regenerative processes in the skin such as angiogenesis, production of extracellular matrix components including collagen, elastin, proteoglycans, glycosaminoglycans, etc, additionally activating metalloproteinases (MMPs) involved in tissue remodeling.
Copper-peptide complexes are used to stimulate the repair of damaged skin and bone, the healing of ulcerated stomach and intestinal lining (e.g. inflammatory bowel dis-ease), improve the take of hair transplants, and stimulate hair growth.
In aged human skin, copper-peptide creams thicken skin, improve elasticity, and increase the density of the subcutaneous fat layer. GHK-Cu blocks ferritin channels and the release of tissue-damaging free (oxidative) iron after injury, thus blocking iron-catalyzed lipid peroxidation that often occurs after injury and interleukin-1 damage to pancreatic islet cells. The three-dimensional structure of GHK-Cu is strikingly similar to many pharmaceutical anti-ulcer (stomach) medicines. Two potential uses for a copper peptide that deserve more study are the reduction of scars and skin lesions and the systemic activation of wound healing prior to surgical procedures.