GHK, the Human Skin Remodeling Peptide, Induces Anti-Cancer Expression of Numerous Caspase, Growth Regulatory, and DNA Repair Genes


  • Loren Pickart Skin Biology, Bellevue, Washington 98006, USA
  • Jessica M. Vasquez-Soltero Skin Biology, Bellevue, Washington 98006, USA
  • Francoise D. Pickart Skin Biology, Bellevue, Washington 98006, USA
  • John Majnarich Bio Research Laboratories, Redmond, Washington 98052, USA



Copper peptides, cancer therapy, cancer inhibition, sarcoma, connectivity map.


 GHK (glycyl-L-histidyl-L-lysine) is a human plasma copper-binding peptide that declines during aging. Numerous studies have established many biological actions of GHK: it improves tissue regeneration, possesses anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, increases cellular stemness; increases decorin, angiogenesis, and nerve outgrowth. In recent studies, GHK was found to switch gene expression from a diseased state to a healthier state for certain cancers and for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In studies of aggressive, metastatic human colon cancer, the Broad Institute's Connectivity Map indicated that GHK, out of 1,309 bioactive molecules studied, reversed the expression of 70% of 54 genes over-expressed genes. GHK also reactivates programmed cell death in several cultured human cancer lines.

To determine GHK's potential as a cancer treatment, we analyzed the molecule's effect on the human gene expression using the Connectivity Map. GHK induces a 50% or greater change of expression in 31.2% of human genes. GHK increased gene expression in 6 of the 12 human caspase genes that activate programmed cell death. In 28 other genes, GHK altered the pattern of gene expression in a manner that would be expected to inhibit cancer growth. For DNA repair genes, there was a one-sided increase in the expression of such genes (47 UP, 5 DOWN).

A previous study found that a copper peptide plus ascorbic acid inhibited Ehrlich ascites cancer in mice. Using this method with GHK-copper gave a strong suppression of Sarcoma 180 in mice. These results support the idea that GHK may help to impede or suppress cancer growth.


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How to Cite

Loren Pickart, Jessica M. Vasquez-Soltero, Francoise D. Pickart, & John Majnarich. (2014). GHK, the Human Skin Remodeling Peptide, Induces Anti-Cancer Expression of Numerous Caspase, Growth Regulatory, and DNA Repair Genes. Journal of Analytical Oncology, 3(2),  79–87.