Hair Growth: Which peptides are most helpful according to the research?


Jan 18, 2023
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Androgenic alopecia or male-pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss in men and less commonly a cause of hair loss in women. More common causes of hair loss in women include medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism; medications including oral contraceptives; nutritional deficiencies; and physiological and emotional stresses. The causes of hair loss in elderly women may be multifactorial. Among 100 adult women with diffuse hair loss in one study, probable causes were determined to be psychological stress (30%), fever (33%), abortion and delivery (21%), trauma or surgical operations (13%), and hypothyroidism (10%). More than 50 percent of women had more than one likely cause of hair loss while a cause could not be determined in six percent.

Male and female pattern hair loss are polygenic conditions, which explains their high prevalence and variable phenotypic expression. Epigenetic modifications may alter genetic susceptibility.

Interestingly, genetic variations associated with the androgen receptor gene (AR) have been linked to development of male pattern hair loss, but genes for aromatase (CYP19A1), estrogen receptor-a (ESR1), type I 5-alpha reductase (SRD5A1), and insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF-2) do not have any established association with it.

Research into genetic associations with female pattern hair loss is less extensive and robust than that of male pattern hair loss. Studying the relationship between female pattern hair loss and AR has proven difficult, since AR is located on the X chromosome, which undergoes X inactivation in women. An allelic variant of CYP19A1 was associated with a predisposition to female pattern hair loss in a genome-wide association study.

The effects of hair loss on self-image and self-esteem have been well documented. In one study, significantly diminished quality of life among adult men and women with various forms of hair loss was significantly correlated with symptoms of clinical depression, and the psychological impact of hair loss among women appears to be more severe than for men.Consequently, a therapy that will safely and effectively increase hair growth in women is highly desirable.

So… what is considered a neurorestorative therapy? According to the research, it appears that GHK-Cu and Thymosin Beta-4 peptide may be one of the best available.


Research Example #1:

Regenerative and Protective Actions of the GHK-Cu Peptide in the Light of the New Gene Data

The human peptide GHK (glycyl-l-histidyl-l-lysine) has multiple biological actions, all of which, according to our current knowledge, appear to be health positive. It stimulates blood vessel and nerve outgrowth, increases collagen, elastin, and glycosaminoglycan synthesis, as well as supports the function of dermal fibroblasts. GHK’s ability to improve tissue repair has been demonstrated for skin, lung connective tissue, boney tissue, liver, and stomach lining. GHK has also been found to possess powerful cell protective actions, such as multiple anti-cancer activities and anti-inflammatory actions, lung protection and restoration of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) fibroblasts, suppression of molecules thought to accelerate the diseases of aging such as NFκB, anti-anxiety, anti-pain and anti-aggression activities, DNA repair, and activation of cell cleansing via the proteasome system. Recent genetic data may explain such diverse protective and healing actions of one molecule, revealing multiple biochemical pathways regulated by GHK.

Research Example #2:

GHK Peptide as a Natural Modulator of Multiple Cellular Pathways in Skin Regeneration

GHK (glycyl-L-histidyl-L-lysine) is present in human plasma, saliva, and urine but declines with age. It is proposed that GHK functions as a complex with copper 2+ which accelerates wound healing and skin repair. GHK stimulates both synthesis and breakdown of collagen and glycosaminoglycans and modulates the activity of both metalloproteinases and their inhibitors. It stimulates collagen, dermatan sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and the small proteoglycan, decorin. It also restores replicative vitality to fibroblasts after radiation therapy. The molecule attracts immune and endothelial cells to the site of an injury. It accelerates wound healing of the skin, hair follicles, gastrointestinal tract, boney tissue, and foot pads of dogs. It also induces systemic wound healing in rats, mice, and pigs. In cosmetic products, it has been found to tighten loose skin and improve elasticity, skin density, and firmness, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, reduce photodamage, and hyperpigmentation, and increase keratinocyte proliferation. GHK has been proposed as a therapeutic agent for skin inflammation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and metastatic colon cancer. It is capable of up- and downregulating at least 4,000 human genes, essentially resetting DNA to a healthier state. The present review revisits GHK's role in skin regeneration in the light of recent discoveries.

Research Example #3:

GHK-Cu may Prevent Oxidative Stress in Skin by Regulating Copper and Modifying Expression of Numerous Antioxidant Genes

The copper binding tripeptide GHK (glycyl-l-histidyl-l-lysine) is a naturally occurring plasma peptide that significantly declines during human aging. It has been established that GHK:Copper(2+) improves wound healing and tissue regeneration and stimulates collagen and decorin production. GHK-Cu also supports angiogenesis and nerve outgrowth, improves the condition of aging skin and hair, and possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, it increases cellular stemness and secretion of trophic factors by mesenchymal stem cells. GHK’s antioxidant actions have been demonstrated in vitro and in animal studies. They include blocking the formation of reactive oxygen and carbonyl species, detoxifying toxic products of lipid peroxidation such as acrolein, protecting keratinocytes from lethal Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, and blocking hepatic damage by dichloromethane radicals. In recent studies, GHK has been found to switch gene expression from a diseased state to a healthier state for certain cancers and for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Broad Institute’s Connectivity Map indicated that GHK induces a 50% or greater change of expression in 31.2% of human genes. This paper reviews biological data demonstrating positive effects of GHK in skin and proposes interaction with antioxidant-related genes as a possible explanation of its antioxidant activity.

Thymosin Beta 4​

Research Example #1:
Role of thymosin beta 4 in hair growth

Although thymosin beta 4 (Tβ4) is known to play a role in hair growth, its mechanism of action is unclear. We examined the levels of key genes in a Tβ4 epidermal-specific over-expressing mouse model and Tβ4 global knockout mouse model to explore how Tβ4 affects hair growth. By depilation and histological examination of the skin, we confirmed the effect of Tβ4 on hair growth, the number of hair shafts and hair follicle (HF) structure. The mRNA and protein expression of several genes involved in hair growth were detected by real-time PCR and western blotting, respectively. Changes in the expression of β-catenin and Lef-1, the two key molecules in the Wnt signaling pathway, were like the changes observed in Tβ4 expression. We also found that compared to the control mice, the mRNA and protein expression of MMP-2 and VEGF were increased in the Tβ4 over-expressing mice, while the level of E-cadherin (E-cad) remained the same. Further, in the Tβ4 global knockout mice, the mRNA and protein levels of MMP-2 and VEGF decreased dramatically, and the level of E-cad was stable. Based on the above results, we believe that Tβ4 may regulate the levels of VEGF and MMP-2 via the Wnt/β-catenin/Lef-1 signaling pathway to influence the growth of blood vessels around HFs and to activate cell migration. Tβ4 may have potential for the treatment of hair growth problems in adults, and its effects should be further confirmed in future studies.

Research Example #2:

Thymosin beta4 increases hair growth by activation of hair follicle stem cells

Thymosin beta4, a 43-amino acid polypeptide that is an important mediator of cell migration and differentiation, also promotes angiogenesis and wound healing. Here, we report that thymosin beta4 stimulates hair growth in normal rats and mice. A specific subset of hair follicular keratinocytes in mouse skin expresses thymosin beta4 in a highly coordinated manner during the hair growth cycle. These keratinocytes originate in the hair follicle bulge region, a niche for skin stem cells. Rat vibrissa follicle clonogenic keratinocytes, closely related, if not identical, to the bulge-residing stem cells, were isolated and their migration and differentiation increased in the presence of nanomolar concentrations of thymosin beta4. Expression and secretion of the extracellular matrix-degrading enzyme matrix metalloproteinase-2 were increased by thymosin beta4. Thus, thymosin beta4 accelerates hair growth, in part, due to its effect on critical events in the active phase of the hair follicle cycle, including promoting the migration of stem cells and their immediate progeny to the base of the follicle, differentiation, and extracellular matrix remodeling.

Research Example #3

Thymosin Beta-4 Induces Mouse Hair Growth

Thymosin beta-4 (Tβ4) is known to induce hair growth and hair follicle (HF) development; however, its mechanism of action is unknown. We generated mice that overexpressed Tβ4 in the epidermis, as well as Tβ4 global knockout mice, to study the role of Tβ4 in HF development and explore the mechanism of Tβ4 on hair growth. To study Tβ4 function, we depilated control and experimental mice and made tissue sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E). To explore the effect of Tβ4 on hair growth and HF development, the mRNA and protein levels of Tβ4 and VEGF were detected by real-time PCR and western blotting in control and experimental mice. Protein expression levels and the phosphorylation of P38, ERK and AKT were also examined by western blotting. The results of depilation indicated that hair re-growth was faster in Tβ4-overexpressing mice, but slower in knockout mice. Histological examination revealed that Tβ4-overexpressing mice had a higher number of hair shafts and HFs clustered together to form groups, while the HFs of control mice and knockout mice were separate. Hair shafts in knockout mice were significantly reduced in number compared with control mice. Increased Tβ4 expression at the mRNA and protein levels was confirmed in Tβ4-overexpressing mice, which also had increased VEGF expression. On the other hand, knockout mice had reduced levels of VEGF expression. Mechanistically, Tβ4-overexpressing mice showed increased protein expression levels and phosphorylation of P38, ERK and AKT, whereas knockout mice had decreased levels of both expression and phosphorylation of these proteins. Tβ4 appears to regulate P38/ERK/AKT signaling via its effect on VEGF expression, with a resultant effect on the speed of hair growth, the pattern of HFs and the number of hair shafts.

Overall Conclusion​

GHK-Cu seems to work in a multi-modal approach in which it accelerates wound-healing of the skin, hair follicles, gastrointestinal tract, boney tissue, and foot pads of dogs. It also induces systemic wound healing in rats, mice, and pigs. In cosmetic products, it has been found to tighten loose skin and improve elasticity, skin density, and firmness, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, reduce photodamage, and hyperpigmentation, and increase keratinocyte proliferation. GHK has been proposed as a therapeutic agent for skin inflammation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and metastatic colon cancer. It is capable of up- and down regulating at least 4,000 human genes, essentially resetting DNA to a healthier state.

Tβ4 was shown to stimulate the expression of VEGF, which may stimulate a downstream signaling pathway via the activation of the MAPK/P38, MAPK/ERK and PI3K/AKT signaling pathways. These studies establish the basis for the further exploration of Tβ4 function and its molecular mechanisms in hair growth.

In conclusion, researchers have identified an important role for GHK-Cu and Thymosin-Beta 4 in hair growth. As shown above in the research, experiments have clearly demonstrated that GHK-Cu and Tβ4overexpression promotes hair growth, while the loss of these same peptide molecules suppresses it.