A copper complex peptide is an anti-aging beauty ingredient that is quickly gaining in popularity. It’s most commonly used in serum form and can also be found in some facial moisturizers. These peptides are considered antioxidants, meaning they counteract the oxidation of free radicals, which are environmental particles that cause cellular damage and, over time, lead to expression lines and wrinkles.
They help increase collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycan levels in the skin, which gives it a firmer look, decreases fine lines and wrinkles, helps reduce pore size and increases hair growth. Additionally, they’re a great skin-healing ingredient and can be used to repair old scars and sunspots.
The copper peptide is known as GHK-Cu (glycyl histidyl lysine-copper) and is naturally produced in the body. It is present in the blood plasma, saliva and urine, but its production declines with age. It accelerates wound healing and skin repair, promotes the synthesis of extracellular matrix proteins such as collagen and fibronectin, and attracts immune cells to the injury site. It enhances the turnover of glycosaminoglycans such as chondroitin sulfate and heparin sulfate, and stimulates the small proteoglycan decorin.
The molecular structure of this complex has been determined by X-ray crystallography and EPR spectroscopy. Essentially, the copper ion is coordinated by three nitrogens from the imidazole group of histidine ligands at the dN and eN sites. This is an important characteristic of PHM, as it controls the decisive steric/electronic effects imparted to the copper ion by the histidine ligands, which determines both redox properties and binding preferences for oxygen ions.