Wound healing: the role of growth factors

Drugs Today (Barc). 2003 Oct;39(10):787-800. doi: 10.1358/dot.2003.39.10.799472.


Wound healing is a complex biological process that requires cellular interactions between a variety of cells, including fibroblasts, myofibroblasts, smooth muscle cells, endothelial cells, keratinocytes and immune cells. These interactions are mediated by numerous factors such as growth factors, hormones, blood components and second messengers. Several growth factors that are released at the wound site are presumed to be necessary for wound healing. These include epidermal growth factor (EGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), insulin-like growth factor (IGF), keratinocyte growth factor (KGF), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), transforming growth factor (TGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The clinical use of growth factors to stimulate the healing of wounds is currently being investigated. Several growth factors, including PDGF, FGF-2, IGF and KGF, have been used in clinical trials, and PDGF is currently approved for use in human medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / physiology
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / therapeutic use
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / physiology
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / therapeutic use
  • Growth Substances / physiology*
  • Growth Substances / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / physiology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / therapeutic use
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / physiology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / therapeutic use
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / physiology
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / therapeutic use
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / therapeutic use
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / physiology
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / therapeutic use
  • Wound Healing / drug effects
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Growth Substances
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II