Gastrointestinal mucosal regeneration: role of growth factors

Front Biosci. 1999 Mar 15;4:D303-9. doi: 10.2741/a428.


Growth factors and their receptors play important roles in cell proliferation, migration, tissue injury repair and ulcer healing. In gastric mucosa, transforming growth factor alpha (TGF-alpha) and epidermal growth factor (EGF) by activating their common receptor, control cell proliferation. TGF-alpha predominantly plays this role under normal conditions and after acute injury, while EGF exerts its actions mainly during healing of chronic ulcers. During regeneration of injured gastric mucosa, these growth factors serve predominantly to restore the epithelial component. Other growth factors, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) serve to promote restoration of the connective tissue and microvessels (angiogenesis) in injured mucosa. During healing of chronic ulcers, a new epithelial lineage secreting EGF and other growth peptides develops and the majority of cells lining the ulcer margin overexpress the EGF receptor. Activation of the EGF receptor induces dramatic increases in MAP (Erk -1 and -2) kinase activity and phosphorylation levels. Inhibition of this signaling pathway dramatically delays ulcer healing. Granulation connective tissue, which grows under the stimulation of bFGF and VEGF is the major source for regeneration of connective tissue lamina propria and microvessels within the ulcer scar. Other growth factors such as insulin - like growth factor, keratinocyte growth factor, hepatocyte growth factor and trefoil peptides have been implicated in gastrointestinal (gastric ulcers, colitis) regeneration following injury. This paper is intended to provide an overview of the role of growth factors in gastrointestinal mucosal regeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Division
  • Colitis / physiopathology
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / physiology
  • Gastric Mucosa / blood supply
  • Gastric Mucosa / injuries
  • Gastric Mucosa / microbiology
  • Gastric Mucosa / physiology*
  • Growth Substances / physiology*
  • Helicobacter Infections / physiopathology
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / blood supply
  • Intestinal Mucosa / injuries
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiology*
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • Regeneration*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stomach Ulcer / microbiology
  • Stomach Ulcer / physiopathology
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha / physiology
  • Wound Healing


  • Growth Substances
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha
  • Epidermal Growth Factor