Titus Thorne

Last Updated November 6, 2022

Titus Thorne

 November 6, 2022

GHK-Cu is one of the better known anti-aging peptides today. Available both as an injectable reference material and a topical cream, GHK-Cu has been proven to increase skin regeneration, promote wound healing, and act as an anti-inflammatory agent.

But apart from its numerous potential benefits, researchers may be curious about GHK-Cu side effects.

To help researchers along, our team has put together this guide to the main benefits and side effects of GHK-Cu. Further on we also how GHK-Cu may be dosed in a research setting, and include details on our preferred online source of GHK-Cu.

Buy GHK-Cu from our #1 recommended vendor...

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What is GHK-Cu?

GHK-Cu is a naturally occurring tri-peptide composed of the three amino acids glycine, histidine, and lysine. The human peptide GHK has high Cu2+ affinity and readily binds with copper in the body, thus creating GHK-Cu.

GHK-Cu was discovered in the 1970s by Dr. Loren Pickart, who noticed that when plasma from young individuals was added to the liver tissue of older individuals, the older tissue would produce proteins more characteristic of younger individuals. Dr. Pickart then found that GHK levels are highest in individuals aged 20 but decline significantly with old age [1].

GHK-Cu is predominantly found in saliva, blood, and urine, and has multiple biological actions when administered to test subjects, including [1]:

  • Antioxidant gene activity [2]
  • Suppression of inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 [2]
  • Increased protein accumulation [3]
  • Increased collagen synthesis [3]
  • In animal models, GHK-Cu has been shown to increase an anti-inflammatory proteogly called decorin that can protect diabetic rats from kidney-damaging fibrosis [2, 4].

Synthetically made GHK-Cu is available to qualified researchers as a reference material and is sold for in vitro experimentation only.


GHK-Cu Side Effects


GHK-Cu Benefits

Since its discovery, GHK-Cu has demonstrated numerous protective and regenerative benefits, which we summarize below.

GHK-Cu and skin regeneration

In the early 1980s, Maquart et al. identified that the body releases GHK at the site of an injury, proposing that it may be an early signal for skin repair. Subsequent research revealed that GHK is an activator of tissue remodeling and much of the research has since focused on the skin regeneration benefits of GHK-Cu [1].

In a later review, Dr. Pickart detailed that GHK-Cu can [5]:

  • Reduce deep wrinkles and fine lines
  • Tighten skin
  • Improve skin density and elasticity
  • Reverse the thinning of aged skin
  • Protect skin cells from UV radiation
  • Improve overall skin appearance

Due to its properties, GHK-Cu is frequently included in cosmetic products, including anti-aging face creams [1].
GHK-Cu as an anti-inflammatory agent

Numerous studies have shown that GHK-Cu may reduce inflammation and free radical damage, repair protective skin barrier proteins, and improve the rate of healing following tissue injury [1].

As part of its anti-inflammatory effect, GHK-Cu is known to suppress free radicals, thromboxane formation, transforming growth factor beta-1, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and protein glycation. Conversely, it increases speroxide dismutase and vessel vasodilation and has been shown to block ultraviolet damage to skin keratinocytes and improve fibroblast recovery after X-ray treatments [6].

GHK’s strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity and ability to control post-injury oxidative damage has led to strong research interest in its use to help subjects recover from tissue injury [1, 6].

GHK-Cu and wound healing

Several studies support GHK-Cu’s ability to stimulate wound healing and improve the rate at which skin and tissue wounds heal:

  • Mulder et al. found that a topical GHK-Cu treatment enhanced the healing of ulcers in patients with diabetes and reduced the incidence of ulcer infection [7].
  • As part of its wound healing effect, GHK-Cu has been shown to contribute to the initial upregulation of growth factors and inflammatory mediators during nerve regeneration [8].
  • According to Gruchlik et al, GHK-Cu decreases TNF-alpha-dependent IL-6 secretion in fibroblasts, and is preferable for use on the skin to corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which have greater side effects [9].
  • Wang et al. found that GHK-Cu liposomes accelerated scald wound healing in mice by promoting cell proliferation and angiogenesis [10].
  • GHK-Cu can reduce the severity of mottled hyperpigmentation, skin spots, and lesions, and improve the rate of recovery of skin stem cells [11].
  • Beyond its ability to stimulate regeneration of skin, hair follicles, stomach and intestinal linings, and boney tissue, GHK-Cu strongly impacts gene expression relevant to nervous system health and function and may lessen the rate of cognitive decline [12].

GHK-Cu Side Effects

The available research shows that GHK-Cu appears to offer a range of positive effects in test subjects. But what about GHK-Cu’s side effects?

In a 2014 paper, Dr. Pickart stated that GHK-Cu has a favorable safety profile, highlighting that there is no indication that it causes side effects in test subjects [2]:

“The molecule is very safe and no issues have ever arisen during its use as a skin cosmetic or in human wound healing studies.”

In a 2018 review based on new genetic data, he reiterated that all biological actions associated with GHK “appear to be health positive.” He pointed to over four decades of GHK research encompassing cell, tissue, and animal studies, also noting the peptide’s inclusion in commercial anti-aging and cosmetic products such as creams, liposomes, and dermal patches [1].

As for the two methods by which GHK-Cu may be administered:

  • GHK-Cu cream side effects

Researchers have not attributed any side effects to topical GHK-Cu formulas tested to date, and all available research shows that the peptide is non-toxic and a non-irritant when applied directly to the skin [5].

  • GHK-Cu injection side effects

Researchers interested in administering GHK-Cu via injection will note that much of the injectable GHK-Cu research has been conducted on animals, albeit at varying dosages and again, with no major side effects reported [5]. As with the injection of any peptide, GHK-Cu injections may cause reactions at the injection site, such as redness or swelling.

According to Dr. Pickart, GHK-Cu has a very high uptake into human skin and is easily absorbed by passing through the lipids of the epidermal barrier. While even extremely high doses of GHK-Cu are unlikely to cause any adverse reactions, Pickart has estimated that the peptide can produce toxic action and start lowering a subject’s blood pressure starting from an astronomical dose of about 22,500mg [13].


GHK-Cu Side Effects


GHK-Cu Dosage Guide

Pure GHK-Cu is sold as a research chemical absent any recommended dosing guidelines. This leaves researchers free to establish a GHK-Cu dosing protocol based on their research objectives.

Based on Dr. Pickart’s work, researchers looking to test GHK-Cu in a wound healing context should administer a total GHK-Cu dose of 100–200 mg to produce therapeutic actions, though the necessary effective dosage may be even smaller [5].

GHK-Cu dose for wound healing

According to the above, the following GHK-Cu dosing protocol may induce systemic wound healing:

  • Daily Dosage: 2mg of GHK-Cu.
  • Frequency: Administer one subcutaneous injection daily for the duration of the study.
  • Study Duration: 50 days.
  • Notes: This protocol requires two 50mg GHK-Cu vials. Researchers are advised to monitor the subject’s total copper levels and incorporate zinc supplementation if necessary.

GHK-Cu Cream for Anti-Aging | Clinical Results

Researchers have investigated the effect of GHK-Cu cream on skin quality in a number of placebo-controlled clinical studies, with durations from one to three months [5].

Here is a summary of how topical GHK-Cu was administered in three select studies:

  • In a 1998 study by Abdulghani et al., GHK-Cu was found to have a “significant effect” on collagen production when applied as a cream to the thigh area for one month. It was found to outperform creams containing vitamin C and retinoic acid, and was noted for its ability to heal cutaneous photodamage while serving as an anti-inflammatory agent [11].
  • A 2002 study by Leyden et al. found that GHK-Cu cream improved “skin laxity, clarity, and appearance, reduced fine lines and the depth of wrinkles and increased skin density and thickness” when applied to facial skin for 12 weeks [14].
  • A 2005 study by Finkley et al. found that GHK-Cu cream reduced the impact of advanced photodamage when applied twice daily for 12 weeks. The observed benefits include improved skin laxity, firmness, reduced lines, and increased skin density and thickness [15].

These clinical studies indicate that a topical product containing GHK-Cu may be administered for 4-12 weeks to improve the appearance, texture, and health of the skin.


GHK-Cu Side Effects


Where to Buy GHK-Cu Online? | 2022 Guide

GHK-Cu is generally available both as an injectable peptide and in topical form. Researchers interested in either form of GHK-Cu have plenty of options, but which one is the best?

After placing test orders with various online vendors, our team came across Peptide Sciences, a reputable company that sells both injectable GHK-Cu and a GHK-Cu cream.

Here is why Peptide Sciences is a cut above the rest:

  • Lab-tested peptides: Peptide Sciences submits each batch of GHK-Cu to an independent lab for purity testing, and posts the lab results on its website. These measures increase the vendor’s transparency while helping researchers ensure the purity of a peptide before clicking buy.
  • Convenient payment options: Peptide Sciences accepts all major credit cards, bank transfers, and cryptocurrencies like BTC and ETH, giving researchers plenty of options.
  • Solid prices: Peptide Sciences is not the most economical vendor, but they offer good value for money: a single 50mg vial of GHK-Cu costs just $70, while topical GHK-Cu starts at $200. Discounts are available for bulk orders.
  • Fast shipping: Researchers based in the US can expect their delivery in 2-3 business days while those based internationally only have to wait 7-10 business days. Orders over $200 to the US ship free!
  • Customer service: Peptide Sciences have a team of friendly and helpful customer service representatives who stand ready to address any questions or concerns.

Overall, our team has been thoroughly impressed with Peptide Sciences’ excellent peptides, fair prices, fast shipping times, and responsiveness to inquiries.

Buy GHK-Cu from our #1 recommended vendor...


Bacteriostatic Water for Injection

For both safety and accuracy, researchers need to have a certain set of tools when handling peptides like GHK-Cu. These include syringes, bacteriostatic water, sterile vials, and other key items for proper peptide storage, administration, and preparation.

Yet the search for all the required materials can be time-consuming and challenging, a headache for many researchers.

Don’t let this deter your research! The Peptides.org team is pleased to give you our most highly recommended source for supplementary research essentials, culled from our comprehensive survey of top online retailers.

BacteriostaticWater.org

This trusted site carries all the must-have items, from needles to bacteriostatic water, delivered in deluxe packages for optimal convenience. Take your pick of two quality research kits offered by BacteriostaticWater.org to enjoy a full toolkit for your research endeavors.

Equip yourself with the necessities available in the starter research kit:

  • Bacteriostatic Water (30mL) – 3x
  • Insulin Syringes (0.5 cc/mL x 29g x ½) – 100x
  • Alcohol Prep Pads – 200x
  • Sterile Empty Glass Vial (10mL) – 1x
  • Large Needles + Syringes Combo (3cc x 21g x 1) – 10x

Order the premium research kit to receive even more:

  • Bacteriostatic Water (30mL) – 5x
  • Insulin Syringes (0.5 cc/mL x 29g x ½) – 200x
  • Alcohol Prep Pads – 200x
  • Sterile Empty Glass Vial (10mL) – 2x
  • Large Needles + Syringes Combo (3cc x 21g x 1) – 20x

Improve your research today with an order from this esteemed supplier, our favorite when it comes to convenience and quality.

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Side Effects of GHK-Cu | Verdict

With over four decades of research to back its benefits, GHK-Cu has also demonstrated a positive safety profile. It has not been linked to any notable side effects or toxicity, whether applied topically or via subcutaneous injection.

GHK-Cu continues to be studied for its potential to improve tissue healing and skin quality. It is frequently used in anti-aging contexts to reduce age spots and improve skin elasticity.

Whether you’re looking to source research-grade injectable GHK-Cu or a pure GHK-Cu cream, visit Peptide Sciences to place an order today.


References

  1.  Pickart L, Margolina A. Regenerative and Protective Actions of the GHK-Cu Peptide in the Light of the New Gene Data. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jul 7;19(7):1987. doi: 10.3390/ijms19071987. PMID: 29986520; PMCID: PMC6073405.
  2. Pickart, L., Vasquez-Soltero, J. M., & Margolina, A. (2014). GHK and DNA: resetting the human genome to health. BioMed Research International, 151479. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/151479
  3. Maquart, F. X., Pickart, L., Laurent, M., Gillery, P., Monboisse, J. C., & Borel, J. P. (1988). Stimulation of collagen synthesis in fibroblast cultures by the tripeptide‐copper complex glycyl‐L‐histidyl‐L‐lysine‐Cu2+. FEBS letters, 238(2), 343-346. doi:10.1016/0014-5793(88)80509-x
  4. Siméon, A., Wegrowski, Y., Bontemps, Y., & Maquart, F. X. (2000). Expression of glycosaminoglycans and small proteoglycans in wounds: modulation by the tripeptide–copper complex glycyl-l-histidyl-l-lysine-Cu2+. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 115(6), 962-968.
  5. 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, 648108. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/648108
  6. Pickart, L. (2008). The human tri-peptide GHK and tissue remodeling. Journal of Biomaterials Science, Polymer Edition, 19(8), 969-988.
  7. Mulder, G. D., Patt, L. M., Sanders, L., Rosenstock, J., Altman, M. I., Hanley, M. E., & Duncan, G. W. (1994). Enhanced healing of ulcers in patients with diabetes by topical treatment with glycyl‐l‐histidyl‐l‐lysine copper. Wound Repair and Regeneration, 2(4), 259-269.
  8. Ahmed, M. R., Basha, S. H., Gopinath, D., Muthusamy, R., & Jayakumar, R. (2005). Initial upregulation of growth factors and inflammatory mediators during nerve regeneration in the presence of cell adhesive peptide‐incorporated collagen tubes. Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System, 10(1), 17-30.
  9. A. Gruchlik, M. Jurzak, E. W. A. Chodurek, and Z. Dzierzewicz, “Effect of Gly-Gly-His, Gly-His-Lys and their copper complexes on TNF-α-dependent IL-6 secretion in normal human dermal fibroblasts,” Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica, vol. 69, no. 6, pp. 1303–1306, 2012.
  10. Wang X, Liu B, Xu Q, Sun H, Shi M, Wang D, Guo M, Yu J, Zhao C, Feng B. GHK-Cu-liposomes accelerate scald wound healing in mice by promoting cell proliferation and angiogenesis. Wound Repair Regen. 2017 Apr;25(2):270-278. doi: 10.1111/wrr.12520. Epub 2017 Apr 27. PMID: 28370978.
  11. Abdulghani, A. A., Sherr, A., Shirin, S., Solodkina, G., Tapia, E. M., Wolf, B., & Gottlieb, A. B. (1998). Effects of topical creams containing vitamin C, a copper-binding peptide cream and melatonin compared with tretinoin on the ultrastructure of normal skin-A pilot clinical, histologic, and ultrastructural study. Disease Management and Clinical Outcomes, 4(1), 136-141.
  12. 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.
  13. Pickart, L., Vasquez-Soltero, J. M., & Margolina, A. (2012). The human tripeptide GHK-Cu in prevention of oxidative stress and degenerative conditions of aging: implications for cognitive health. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2012. Doi: 10.1155/2012/324832
  14. J. Leyden, T. Stephens, M. Finkey, Y. Appa, and S. Barkovic, “Skin care benefits of copper peptide containing facial cream,” in Proceedings of the American Academy of Dermatology Meeting, New York, NY, USA, February 2002.
  15. M. Finkley, Y. Appa, and S. Bhandarkar, “Copper peptide and skin,” in Cosmeceuticals and Active Cosmetics: Drugs vs. Cosmetics, P. Elsner and H. Maibach, Eds., pp. 549–563, Marcel Dekker, New York, NY, USA, 2005.

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