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Abstract

Human serum albumin (HSA) and the growth factor glycyl-l-histidyl-l-lysine (GHK) bind Cu2+ as part of their normal functions. GHK is found at its highest concentration in the albumin-rich fraction of plasma, leading to speculation that HSA and GHK form a ternary Cu2+ complex. Although preliminary evidence was presented 40 years ago, the structure and stability of such a complex have remained elusive. Here, we show that two ternary Cu(GHK)NImHSA complexes are formed between GHK and the imino nitrogen (NIm) of His side chains of HSA. We identified His3 as one site of ternary complex formation (conditional binding constant cKCu(GHK)NImHis3Cu(GHK) = 2900 M–1 at pH 7.4), with the second site (cKCu(GHK)NImHisXCu(GHK) = 1700 M–1) likely being supplied by either His128 or His510. Together with the established role of HSA as a molecular shuttle in the blood, these complexes may aid the transport of the exchangeable Cu2+ pool and the functional form of GHK.

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... As an illustration, human serum albumin serves as both the primary carrier of Cu ions in the human body and is an important protein component in plasma. By binding to and accumulating free Cu (II) in the serum, human serum albumin exerts a circulating antioxidant effect (Baralić et al. 2022, Bossak-Ahmad et al. 2021, Sendzik et al. 2017). In addition, we also found that Zn and Cd were highly preferential partitioned in blood cells, with the ratio of serum to whole blood levels approaching zero. ...
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Many conditions are associated with defective would healing. A tripeptide growth factor, glycyl-histidyl-lysyl Cu(II) (GHL), which may augment healing these wounds, was investigated. GHL has been recently synthesized by Pickart. In vitro GHL stimulates axonal growth from neurons, serves as a chemoattractant for mast cells and endothelial cells, possesses intrinsic superoxide dismutase activity, and promotes decreased platelet aggregation. In vivo, it has been observed to increase angiogenesis and increase serum erythropoietin. This experiment demonstrates the ability of topically applied GHL to accelerate the contraction of open wounds.
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8-Hydroxyquinolines (8HQ) have found widespread application in chemistry and biology due to their ability to complex a range of transition metal ions. The family of 2-substituted 8HQs has been proposed for use in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Most notably, the therapeutic PBT2 (Prana Biotechnology Ltd.) has been shown to act as an efficient metal chaperone, disaggregate metal-enriched amyloid plaques comprised of the Aβ peptide, inhibit Cu/Aβ redox chemistry, and reverse the AD phenotype in transgenic animal models. Yet surprisingly little is known about the molecular interactions at play. In this study, we show that the homologous ligand 2-[(dimethylamino)methyl]-8-hydroxyquinoline (HL) forms a CuL complex with a conditional (apparent) dissociation constant of 0.33 nM at pH 6.9 and is capable of forming ternary Cu(2+) complexes with neurotransmitters including histamine (HA), glutamic acid (Glu), and glycine (Gly), with glutathione disulfide (GSSG), and with histidine (His) side chains of proteins and peptides including the Aβ peptide. Our findings suggest a molecular basis for the strong metal chaperone activity of PBT2, its ability to attenuate Cu(2+)/Aβ interactions, and its potential to promote neuroprotective and neuroregenerative effects.
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Glycyl-L-histidyl-L-lysine (GHK) is a tripeptide with affinity for copper(II) ions and was isolated from human plasma. This peptide appears to play a physiological role in wound healing. We report the stimulating effect of GHK-Cu on collagen synthesis by fibroblasts. The stimulation began between 10−12 and 10−11 M, maximized at 10−9 M, and was independent of any change in cell number. The presence of a GHK triplet in the α2(I) chain of type I collagen suggests that the tripeptide might be liberated by proteases at the site of a wound and exert in situ healing effects.
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Albumin, a major protein in the blood circulation, can undergo increased glycation in diabetes. From recent studies, it has become evident that glycation has important implications for albumin actions and impact on cell functioning. This study compares the structural and functional properties of albumin glycated by glucose and methylglyoxal (MGO) with those of albumin purified from diabetic patients. Human serum albumin (HSA) was purified from diabetic patients and control subjects using affinity chromatography, and oxidation parameters in various albumin preparations were determined. Tryptophan and 1-anilino-8-naphthalene sulphonic acid (ANSA) probe fluorescence, redox state, antioxidant and copper-binding capacities of the different preparations of albumin were also determined and compared. Occurrence of oxidative modifications was enhanced in albumin whether purified from diabetic patients, or glycated by glucose or MGO, after determination of their fructosamine and free thiol and amino group contents, carbonyl content and antioxidant activities. Whereas more quantitative changes in oxidative and structural parameters were observed in the glucose- and MGO-modified albumins, significant impairment of albumin function (free-radical-scavenging and copper-binding capacities) were demonstrated in the HSA purified from diabetics. These findings reveal different structural and functional features of diabetic HSA compared with in vitro models. This study provides new information supporting albumin as an important biomarker for monitoring diabetic pathophysiology. In addition, it reconfirms the influence of experimental conditions in which advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) are generated in tests designed to mimic the pathological conditions of diabetes.
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The Gly-His-Lys (GHK) peptide and the Asp-Ala-His-Lys (DAHK) sequences are naturally occurring high-affinity copper(II) chelators found in the blood plasma and are hence of biological interest. A structural study of the copper complexes of these peptides was conducted in the solid state and in solution by determining their X-ray structures, and by using a large range of spectroscopies, including EPR and HYSCORE (hyperfine sub-level correlation), X-ray absorption and 1H and 13C NMR spectroscopy. The results indicate that the structures of [Cu II(DAHK)] in the solid state and in solution are similar and confirm the equatorial coordination sphere of NH 2, two amidyl N and one imidazole N. Additionally, a water molecule is bound apically to Cu II as revealed by the X-ray structure. As reported previously in the literature, [Cu II(GHK)], which exhibits a dimeric structure in the solid state, forms a monomeric complex in solution with three nitrogen ligands: NH 2, amidyl and imidazole. The fourth equatorial site is occupied by a labile oxygen atom from a carboxylate ligand in the solid state. We probe that fourth position and study ternary complexes of [Cu II(GHK)] with glycine or histidine. The Cu II exchange reaction between different DAHK peptides is very slow, in contrast to [Cu II(GHK)], in which the fast exchange was attributed to the presence of a [Cu II(GHK) 2] complex. The redox properties of [Cu II(GHK)] and [Cu II(DAHK)] were investigated by cyclic voltammetry and by measuring the ascorbate oxidation in the presence of molecular oxygen. The measurements indicate that both Cu II complexes are inert under moderate redox potentials. In contrast to [Cu II(DAHK)], [Cu II(GHK)] could be reduced to Cu I around -0.62 V (versus AgCl/Ag) with subsequent release of the Cu ion. These complete analyses of structure and redox activity of those complexes gave new insights with biological impact and can serve as models for other more complicated Cu II-peptide interactions.
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Tissue remodeling follows the initial phase of wound healing and stops inflammatory and scar-forming processes, then restores the normal tissue morphology. The human peptide Gly-(L-His)-(L-Lys) or GHK, has a copper 2+ (Cu(2+)) affinity similar to the copper transport site on albumin and forms GHK-Cu, a complex with Cu(2+). These two molecules activate a plethora of remodeling related processes: (1) chemoattraction of repair cells such as macrophages, mast cells, capillary cells; (2) anti-inflammatory actions (suppression of free radicals, thromboxane formation, release of oxidizing iron, transforming growth factor beta-1, tumor necrosis factor alpha and protein glycation while increasing superoxide dismutase, vessel vasodilation, blocking ultraviolet damage to skin keratinocytes and improving fibroblast recovery after X-ray treatments); (3) increases protein synthesis of collagen, elastin, metalloproteinases, anti-proteases, vascular endothelial growth factor, fibroblast growth factor 2, nerve growth factor, neutrotropins 3 and 4, and erythropoietin; (4) increases the proliferation of fibroblasts and keratinocytes; nerve outgrowth, angiogenesis, and hair follicle size. GHK-Cu stimulates wound healing in numerous models and in humans. Controlled studies on aged skin demonstrated that it tightens skin, improves elasticity and firmness, reduces fine lines, wrinkles, photodamage and hyperpigmentation. GHK-Cu also improves hair transplant success, protects hepatic tissue from tetrachloromethane poisoning, blocks stomach ulcer development, and heals intestinal ulcers and bone tissue. These results are beginning to define the complex biochemical processes that regulate tissue remodeling.
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Human albumin (HA) is widely used for volume replacement or correction of hypoalbuminaemia. The value of HA in the clinical setting continues to be controversial, and it is unclear whether in today's climate of cost consciousness, there is still a place for such a highly priced substance. It is therefore appropriate to update our knowledge of the value of HA. With the exception of women in early pregnancy, there appears to be few indications for the use of HA to correct hypovolaemia. Some studies of traumatic brain injury and intensive care patients suggest negative effects on outcome and organ function of (hyperoncotic) HA. Modern synthetic colloids appear to be a cheaper alternative for maintaining colloid oncotic pressure. The value of using HA to correct hypoalbuminaemia has not been clearly justified. Theoretical and pharmacological benefits of HA, such as oxygen radical scavenging or binding of toxic substances, have not as yet been shown to have beneficial clinical consequences. Experimental data from cell lines or animals do not appear to mimic the clinical setting. Convincing data justifying the use of HA either for treating hypovolaemia or for correcting hypoalbuminaemia are still lacking. A restricted use of HA is recommended.
Article
Summary The structure of a growth-modulating tripeptide from human serum and plasma has been determined to be H-glycyl-histidyl-lysine-OH.
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A rapid method for the purification of histones and a variety of growth-promoting proteins and peptides by chromatography on silica gel has been developed. The isolation of the growth-promoting components of serum has been hampered by excessive losses associated with the use of water-based purification mens in acidic methanol-H2O solutions (eg. insulin, albumin, the somatomedins) provides a basis for purification on high-pressure silica gel columns, while peptides and histones can be purified in similar solvents. After column chromatography, the solvent is removed by flash-evaporation, or the protein may be precipitated directly from the solvent by neutralization of the pH and the addition of ethanol. The retention of biological activity (eg. somatomedin-C binding to insulin receptors and cell-growth stimulation) and recovery are excellent.
Article
The copper content of dog serum and its distribution to copper binding proteins was compared with that of rat and mouse. Total serum Cu concentrations of dogs and mice were one third those of the rat. Plasma ceruloplasmin, determined by azide-inhibitable oxidase activity with two substrates, was 8-fold less in the dog and 9- to 20-fold less in the mouse than in the rat, and, in both dogs and mice, there was 70-75% less ceruloplasmin Cu, determined by atomic absorption after gel filtration. In the dog, the largest proportion of total and exchangeable serum Cu was with the transcuprein fraction. Only one third as much Cu was with albumin in the dog (and mouse) versus the rat, and this was released much more readily through dialysis. In dogs and mice, the exchangeable (nonceruloplasmin) serum copper pool was half the size of that in rats and humans. Especially in the mouse (but also in rats and dogs), a small proportion of the exchangeable pool appeared bound to ferroxidase II. We conclude that the dog may rely more on transcuprein and low molecular weight complexes and less on albumin and ceruloplasmin for transport of copper to cells.
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Fractionation of normal serum on Sephadex G-150, followed by determination of copper, caeruloplasmin and albumin concentrations, indicated that only approximately 71% of total serum copper was associated with caeruloplasmin; less than previously reported values. Seven per cent was associated with a high molecular weight protein, designated 'transcuprein', 19% with albumin and 2% with amino acids. Compared with adult serum the concentrations of caeruloplasmin and of copper associated with caeruloplasmin were low both in serum from neonates and in serum from patients with symptomatic Wilson's disease. However, in contrast to the neonate, Wilson's disease patients exhibited a raised total serum copper and raised non-caeruloplasmin-copper. In Indian Childhood Cirrhosis serum caeruloplasmin and caeruloplasmin-copper levels were normal, whilst the non-caeruloplasmin-copper was raised. Elevated non-caeruloplasmin-copper in Wilson's disease and Indian Childhood Cirrhosis may therefore represent an overspill into the serum from a copper-laden liver. Children with malignancy showed increased serum concentrations of copper and caeruloplasmin. Both caeruloplasmin-bound and non-caeruloplasmin-bound copper concentrations were elevated. It remains to be determined whether increased 'transcuprein'- and albumin-bound copper result from a sequestering of copper released from peripherally utilized caeruloplasmin, or are associated with increased rates of caeruloplasmin synthesis.
Article
We examined the distribution of copper among four components of human serum separated by chromatography on Sephadex G-150 and Affi-gel blue. Analysis of copper by furnace atomic absorption indicated that normal adults have copper at an average of 600 ng/ml associated with ceruloplasmin; at 120 ng/ml with transcuprein, a new copper transport protein; at 150 ng/ml with albumin; and at 90 ng/ml with one to three components of low molecular weight (less than 30,000). Cancer patients had more total copper but similar proportions in the four serum fractions. In both groups, some individuals had very high levels of copper in transcuprein, albumin, and/or one or more components of the low-molecular-weight fraction. The results showed that, contrary to earlier conclusions, ceruloplasmin copper only comprised about 60% of the total in human serum; and not just ceruloplasmin but also other forms of serum copper may be elevated in cancer patients.
The binding of six trace metals, Mn(II), Ni(II), Zn(II), Cu(II), Cd(II) and Fe(III), to human cord serum has been studied by Sephadex G-100 gel filtration at physiological pH, using radioisotopes as tracers. The results are compared with those obtained from adult serum. In both cord and adult sera, extensive amounts of the metals are bound to high molecular weight proteins. Among them, Fe(III) is mostly bound to transferrin; Ni(II), Zn(II), Cu(II), and Cd(II) are bound to albumin and other macromolecules. The binding of Mn(II) either to transferrin or albumin is not resolved. Small fractions of Zn(II), Cu(II), and Cd(II) and large fractions of Mn(II) and Ni(II) are found to be associated with low molecular weight components of both sera. The distribution varies from metal to metal. However, the low molecular weight component of the size 1500 - 10000 is present in all the metals studied. Further purification of this component was attempted by DEAE-cellulose ion-exchange chromatography. The possible identity as well as the biological role played by this particular component of serum in the transport of metals in blood and across membranes is discussed.
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The content of zinc and copper of whole blood, plasma, erythrocytes and white cells, has been measured in normal controls. The concentrations of zinc and copper in leucocytes are about seven and ten times respectively higher than those in erythrocytes. Women taking oral contraceptives showed significant increases in the concentrations of copper in plasma and whole blood but not in leucocytes or erythrocytes. Oral contraceptives did not alter the concentration of zinc in any of the fractions or in whole blood. These data provide a baseline for the assessment of the body status of zinc and copper in various disease states in which deficiencies may be present.
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The single isotopic-enzymatic assay of histamine was modified to increase its sensitivity and to facilitate measurement of plasma histamine levels. The modification involved extracting 3H-1-methylhistamine (generated by the enzyme N-methyltransferase acting on histamine in the presence of S-[methyl-3H]-adenosyl-L-methionine) into chloroform and isolating the 3H-1-methylhistamine by thin-layer chromatography (TLC). The TLC was developed in acetone:ammonium hydroxide (95:10), and the methylhistamine spot (Rf = 0.50) was identified with an o-phthalaldehyde spray, scraped from the plate, and assayed in a scintillation counter. The assay in plasma demonstrated a linear relationship from 200 to 5000 pg histamine/ml. Plasma always had higher readings than buffer, and dialysis of plasma returned these values to the same level as buffer, suggesting that the baseline elevations might be attributable to histamine. However, all histamine standard curves were run in dialyzed plasma to negate any additional influences plasma might exert on the assay. The arithmetic mean (+/- SEM) in normal plasma histamine was 318.4 +/- 25 pg/ml (n = 51), and the geometric mean was 280 +/- 35 pg/ml. Plasma histamine was significantly elevated by infusion of histamine at 0.05 to 1.0 micrograms/kg/min or by cold immersion of the hand of a cold-urticaria patient. Therefore this modified isotopic-enzymatic assay of histamine is extremely sensitive, capable of measuring fluctuations in plasma histamine levels within the normal range, and potentially useful in analysis of the role histamine plays in human physiology.
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The interaction between Cu(II) and the growth-modulating tripeptide glycyl-L-histidyl-L-lysine in the presence and absence of L-histidine was investigated by potentiometric titration and visible-absorption spectrophotometry at 25 degrees C in 0.15 M-NaCl. Analyses of the results in the pH range 3.5--10.6 indicated the presence of multiple species in solution in the binary system and extensive amounts of the ternary complexes in the ternary system. The species distribution and the stability constants, as well as the visible-absorption spectra of the species, were evaluated. The combined results were used to propose the structure of some of the complexes. The influence of the epsilon-amino group of the peptide in the enhancement of the stability constants was reflected prominently when compared with those complexes formed by either glycyl-L-histidine or glycyl-L-histidylglycine. The results obtained from the equilibrium-dialysis experiments showed that this tripeptide was able to compete with albumin for Cu(II) at pH 7.5 and 6 degrees C. At equimolar concentrations of albumin and the peptide, about 42% of the Cu(II) was bound to the peptide. At the physiologically relevant concentrations of Cu(II), albumin, L-histidine and this peptide, about 6% of the Cu(II) was associated with the low-molecular-weight components. This distribution could be due to the binary as well as the ternary complexes. The possible physiological role of these complexes in the transportation of Cu(II) from blood to tissues is discussed.
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The plasma tripeptide glycyl-L-lysine (GHL), when added at nanomolar concentrations to a wide group of cultured systems, produces a disparate set of responses ranging from the stimulation of growth and differentiation to outright toxicity. Such diverse actions imply that this tripeptide mediates some basic biochemical function common to many types of cells and organisms. During the isolation of GHL we found the compound to co-isolate through a number of steps with approximately equimolar copper and about 1/5 molar iron. Maximal effects on hepatoma cells (HTC4) were seen when the peptide was added with copper and iron to the growth medium. Structure-function studies revealed that several tripeptides with a histidyl-lysyl linkage were nearly as active as GHL. The association of GHL with copper and a homology similarity between the tripeptide and the copper transport sites on albumin and alpha-fetoprotein, where the cupric atom is bound to a histidyl residue adjacent to a basic residue, suggested that GHL may act as a copper transport factor. We report here that the tripeptide readily forms complexes with copper(II) and enhances the uptake of the metal into cultured hepatoma cells.
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The essentiality of histidine in healthy adults is a controversial topic. To study the potential metabolic effects of a lack of exogenous histidine, four healthy adults consumed a histidine-free diet, with adequate energy and 1.0 g/(kg. d) of an L-amino acid mixture for 48 d. Protein metabolism was monitored every 4 d by using indicator amino acid (L-[1-(13)C]phenylalanine) oxidation (in four subjects) and [(15)N]glycine (in one subject). Urine samples (24-h) were collected for measurement of urea, total nitrogen, creatinine, 3-methylhistidine (3-MH), histidine and beta-alanine. Albumin, transferrin and hematologic concentrations were measured on d 0, 24 and 48. Urinary excretion of nitrogen, urea, creatinine and 3-MH were not affected by the histidine-free diet. However, there was a significant (P < 0.001) linear decline (24-28%) in whole-body protein turnover. Significant (P < 0.05) decreases in albumin (12%), transferrin (17%) and hemoglobin (Hb) (11%) concentrations occurred slowly over the histidine depletion period. The urinary excretion of beta-alanine (an index of carnosine catabolism) generally increased in the smallest subject during the consumption of histidine-free diet. This study demonstrates that a lack of histidine in the diet for a prolonged period resulted in an accommodation of protein turnover and phenylalanine oxidation, measured by the (13)C-phenylalanine indicator amino acid. The extensive metabolic accommodation, together with decreases in Hb, albumin and transferrin during histidine depletion, leaves unresolved the issue of whether histidine is a dietary essential amino acid in healthy adults.
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Fibrinogen is the major plasma protein coagulation factor. Low plasma fibrinogen concentrations are therefore associated with an increased risk of bleeding due to impaired primary and secondary haemostasis. Fibrinogen is a classical positive acute-phase reactant protein and is an independent predictor of coronary heart disease events. This review considers available methods for measurement of fibrinogen and makes recommendations as to their appropriate use. Total clottable fibrinogen assays are the definitive and reference method for plasma fibrinogen measurement. However, they are time-consuming and are rarely required in clinical practice. Clotting rate assays remain the routine method of choice for investigation, monitoring and treatment of bleeding disorders associated with low plasma fibrinogen concentrations. They are appropriately sited in haematology or haemostasis laboratories, with facilities for further relevant investigations, and expert advice from consultant haematologists on appropriate management. They have also been used in the majority of studies investigating increasing fibrinogen concentrations as a cardiovascular risk factor. Prothrombin-time derived assays are widely used, because they are less expensive and come at no extra cost with prothrombin time assays. However, their results vary widely with analysers and reagents, show discrepancies with clotting rate assays for both low and normal plasma fibrinogen samples, and at present they are not recommended by routine clinical use. Immunoassays (radial immunodiffusion, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or nephelometric) are useful in (a) differentiating hypofibrinogenaemia from dysfibrinogenaemia, and (b) assessing cardiovascular risk and acute-phase reactions. Unlike clottable fibrinogen assays, immunoassays can be performed in dipotassium edetate anticoagulated samples.
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Human serum albumin (HSA), the most prominent protein in plasma, binds different classes of ligands at multiple sites. HSA provides a depot for many compounds, affects pharmacokinetics of many drugs, holds some ligands in a strained orientation providing their metabolic modification, renders potential toxins harmless transporting them to disposal sites, accounts for most of the antioxidant capacity of human serum, and acts as a NO-carrier. The globular domain structural organization of monomeric HSA is at the root of its allosteric properties which are reminiscent of those of multimeric proteins. Here, structural, functional, biotechnological, and biomedical aspects of ligand binding to HSA are summarized.
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Fibrinogen and fibrin play an important role in blood clotting, fibrinolysis, cellular and matrix interactions, inflammation, wound healing, angiogenesis, and neoplasia. The contribution of fibrin(ogen) to these processes largely depends not only on the characteristics of the fibrin(ogen) itself, but also on interactions between specific-binding sites on fibrin(ogen), pro-enzymes, clotting factors, enzyme inhibitors, and cell receptors. In this review, the molecular and cellular biology of fibrin(ogen) is reviewed in the context of cutaneous wound repair. The outcome of wound healing depends largely on the fibrin structure, such as the thickness of the fibers, the number of branch points, the porosity, and the permeability. The binding of fibrin(ogen) to hemostasis proteins and platelets as well as to several different cells such as endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, fibroblasts, leukocytes, and keratinocytes is indispensable during the process of wound repair. High-molecular-weight and low-molecular-weight fibrinogen, two naturally occurring variants of fibrin, are important determinants of angiogenesis and differ in their cell growth stimulation, clotting rate, and fibrin polymerization characteristics. Fibrin sealants have been investigated as matrices to promote wound healing. These sealants may also be an ideal delivery vehicle to deliver extra cells for the treatment of chronic wounds.
The subpicomolar Cu 2+ affinity of human serum albumin
  • K Bossak-Ahmad
  • T Frączyk
  • W Bal
  • S C Drew
Bossak-Ahmad, K.; Frączyk, T.; Bal, W.; Drew, S. C. The subpicomolar Cu 2+ affinity of human serum albumin. ChemBioChem 2020, 21, 331−334.