AbstractWound healing is a localized process which involves inflammation, wound cell migration and mitosis, neovascularization, and regeneration of the extracellular matrix. Recent data suggest the actions of wound cells may be regulated by local production of peptide growth factors which influence wound cells through autocrine and paracrine mechanisms. Two peptide growth factors which may play important roles in normal wound healing in tissues such as skin, cornea, and gastrointestinal tract are the structurally related peptides epidermal growth factor (EGF) and transforming growth factor alpha (TGF‐α). EGF/TGF‐α receptors are expressed by many types of cells including skin keratinocytes, fibroblasts, vascular endothelial cells, and epithelial cells of the GI tract. In addition, EGF or TGF‐α are synthesized by several cells involved in wound healing including platelets, keratinocytes, and activated macrophages. Healing of a variety of wounds in animals and patients was enhanced by treatment with EGF or TGF‐α. Epidermal regeneration of partial thickness burns on pigs or dermatome wounds on patients was accelerated with topical application of EGF or TGF‐α, and EGF treatment accelerated healing of gastroduodenal ulcers. EGF also increased tensile strength of skin incisions in rats and corneal incisions in rabbits, cats, and primates. Additional research is needed to better define the roles of EGF, TGF‐α, and their receptor in normal wound healing, to determine if alterations have occurred in the EGF/TGF‐α system in chronic wounds, and to optimize vehicles for effective delivery of peptide growth factors to wounds.
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