Journal of orthopaedic research : official publication of the Orthopaedic Research Society

Tripeptide-copper complex GHK-Cu (II) transiently improved healing outcome in a rat model of ACL reconstruction.

PMID 25731775


After anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR), the biological healing of the graft is a rate-limiting step which can contribute to graft failure. The tripeptide-copper complex glycyl-L-histidyl-L-lysine-Cu(II) (GHK-Cu) is a well-known activator of tissue remodeling. We investigated whether GHK-Cu can improve graft healing following ACLR. Seventy-two rats underwent unilateral ACLR were randomized to saline, 0.3 or 3 mg/ml GHK-Cu groups (n = 24). Post-operational intra-articular injections were given from week 2, once a week, for 4 weeks. Gait analysis was performed pre-injury and at harvesting time. At 6 or 12 weeks post-operation, knee specimens were harvested for knee laxity test, graft pull-out test, and histology. At 6 weeks post-ACLR, GHK-Cu groups resulted in a smaller side-to-side difference in knee laxity as compared to the saline group (p = 0.009), but there was no significant difference at 12 weeks post-operation. The graft complex in the 0.3 mg/ml GHK-Cu group had higher stiffness than saline group at 6 weeks post-operation (p = 0.026), but there was no significant difference in ultimate load, gait parameters, and histological scores among treatment groups. All grafts failed mid-substance during pull-out test. Intra-articular supplementation with a bioactive small molecule GHK-Cu improved graft healing following ACLR in rat, but the beneficial effects could not last as treatment discontinued.

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Gly-His-Lys acetate salt, ≥97% (TLC)