Hair Growth: GHK-CU Analogs & Stimulation of Hair Growth

Certain analogs of GHK-Cu have the property of enlarging hair follicles and stimulating hair growth.  These analogs have more fat-like character than GHK-Cu. This increase in fat-like properties is obtained by either chemically synthesizing fatty acids into the GHK molecule or attaching amino acid residues such as alanine, phenylalanine or leucine to the basic GHK structure. 


These analogs originally arose in an attempt to create GHK-Cu analogs which would be retained in body tissues for longer periods of time. However, it was noted that - while such analogs were superior wound healing agents - they also markedly increased hair growth around the periphery of experimental wounds in mice.  



These hair stimulating analogs were created by Drs. Steven Lovejoy, Loren Pickart and Boris Weinstein. Skin repair and hair growth enhancement effects are closely linked. New skin appears to arise from the hair follicle. Certain products based on Iamin can be used to both repair skin, increase hair follicle size, and stimulate hair growth. As a person ages, our hair follicles get smaller, producing thinner hair shafts. A major cause of hair follicle miniaturization appears to be due to the development of striking changes in capillaries surrounding the hair follicles. Comprehensive surveys of the male scalp from birth to senescence find very significant changes in the structure of the blood vessels of the scalp. The number of the blood capillary loops supplying the hair follicle is greatly diminished. The inadequate subepidermal circulation that can develop as males age does not provide a rich nutrition for the follicle. Strong hair growth requires a large flow of nutrients such as such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids so that the follicle can actively synthesize new hair.

Copper Peptides increases hair growth


Administration of copper peptides  (such as Folligen and Tricomin) to the scalp increases hair growth and increase the size of hair shafts.

Blood flow impairments to the follicle, and their reversal, may explain why the administration of copper peptides  (such as Folligen and Tricomin) to the scalp increases hair growth and increase the size of hair shafts. It has long been known that certain copper-peptide complexes strongly stimulate angiogenesis or new blood vessel formation. The increase in hair follicle size and the rate of hair growth caused by the administration of copper-peptides may be due to their causing blood flow changes that provide adequate nutrients to the follicle, producing faster growing hair with thicker hair shafts. Copper ion complexed with certain peptides has both skin repair and hair growth enhancement effects. Examples of this are Folligen (from Skin Biology), and Tricomin and GraftCyte which are based on Pickart's earlier work (from ProCyte Corporation).


More follicular cell growth and less programmed cell death (apoptosis)

During aging in men and women, there is a progressive decrease in hair follicle size. This produces thinner hair and in time stops new hair growth.

Pyo et al (refererence above) propose, based on studies of human hair follicles, that the actions of copper peptides increase cell growth in cultured hair follicles while decreasing programmed cell death or apoptosis. Copper pepides also decrease the Bax protein which increases apoptosis. Their studies use Ala-His-Lys-copper, as close analog of GHK, that I had found to stimulate hair growth many years ago.




How Does Folligen Work?

So, the copper peptides may function by slowing the rate of programmed cell death in human hair follicles that ultimately stops human hair growth. The skin of the mouse to the left was shaved, then treated in three spots with Folligen. The result is a much more rapid hair growth (the three circular patches of hair) in the three spots treated with Folligen. While human hair growth will not respond nearly as dramatically as in mice, skin health and hair follicle function are closely interrelated. New skin appears to arise from the hair follicle. As a person ages, our hair follicles get smaller, producing thinner hair shafts. The blood circulation that supplies nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicle send fewer blood vessels to the hair follicle, thus inhibiting the vital flow of nutrients to the hair follicle. Copper-peptide complexes improve skin health and a more healthy skin increases the blood vessel network to the hair follicles resulting in larger follicles that grow hair faster with thicker hair shafts. 


imageCopper-Peptides and hair growth?

In the microscopic images studied with magnifications identical changes in the mouse skin untreated with copper-peptides and mouse skin treated with copper-peptides. It was noted that larger hair follicles increased content of subcutaneous fat in the skin (the white material in the center of the skin), and the increased thickness of the skin. When we are young, we have a layer of fat under the skin (part of "baby fat") which is greatly reduced as we age. Hair researchers have noted the accumulation of this fat around healthy follicles that are vigorously growing hair, and its relative lack around dormant follicles, have postulated that these cells serve a supportive function for the hair follicle. It must be emphasized that effects in humans on hair follicle health are not as dramatic. 



New Hair Folicle formation

At times, copper peptides can apparently induce a proliferation of hair follicles, although this phenomena is difficult to reproduce on a consistent basis. Photographs of microscopic field of mouse hair follicles in an animal treated only with saline and photographs of a similar area of mouse skin treated with copper-peptides had a much higher density of hair follicles. Individual experiments on hair follicle multiplication are consistent, that is, the effect is actual when it occurs, but repeated results are difficult to obtain. The variability may be due to different timing in the hair growth cycle or slight changes in the type of, or formulation of, the copper-peptide preparations. Such experiments strongly suggest that, under certain circumstances, new hair follicle formation can be induced in adult animals.