Regeneration of gastric mucosa during ulcer healing is triggered by growth factors and signal transduction pathways

J Physiol Paris. Jan-Dec 2001;95(1-6):337-44. doi: 10.1016/s0928-4257(01)00046-8.


An ulcer is a deep necrotic lesion penetrating through the entire thickness of the gastrointestinal mucosa and muscularis mucosae. Ulcer healing is a complex and tightly regulated process of filling the mucosal defect with proliferating and migrating epithelial and connective tissue cells. This process includes the re-establishment of the continuous surface epithelial layer, glandular epithelial structures, microvessels and connective tissue within the scar. Epithelial cells in the mucosa of the ulcer margin proliferate and migrate onto the granulation tissue to re-epithelialize the ulcer. Growth factors, such as epidermal growth factor (EGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), trefoil peptides (TP), platelet derived growth factor (PDGF) and other cytokines produced locally by regenerating cells, control re-epithelialization and the reconstruction of glandular structures. These growth factors, most notably EGF, trigger epithelial cell proliferation via signal transduction pathways involving EGF-R- MAP (Erk1/Erk2) kinases. Granulation tissue, which develops at the ulcer base, consists of fibroblasts, macrophages and proliferating endothelial cells, which form microvessels under the control of angiogenic growth factors. These growth factors [bFGF, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and angiopoietins] promote angiogenesis--capillary vessel formation--thereby allowing for the reconstruction of microvasculature in the mucosal scar, which is essential for delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the healing site. The primary trigger to activate expression of angiogenic growth factors and their receptors appears to be hypoxia. During ulcer healing expression of growth factor genes is tightly regulated in a temporally and spatially ordered manner.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gastric Mucosa / physiopathology*
  • Growth Substances / physiology*
  • Regeneration*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Stomach Ulcer / physiopathology*
  • Wound Healing*


  • Growth Substances