Synthesis and localization of trefoil factor family (TFF) peptides in the human urinary tract and TFF2 excretion into the urine

Cell Tissue Res. 2010 Mar;339(3):639-47. doi: 10.1007/s00441-009-0913-8.


Trefoil factor family (TFF) peptides promote regeneration and repair processes of mucous epithelia. They also probably play a key role in the remarkable regenerative capacity of the urinary tract epithelia. We have localized TFF1, TFF2, and TFF3 expression systematically in surgical specimens from the urinary tract by reverse transcription with the polymerase chain reaction, Western blot analysis, and immunohistochemistry. Urine samples from patients suffering from nephrolithiasis have been investigated and compared with those of healthy controls. TFF synthesis is detectable along the entire urinary tract epithelia. TFF3 synthesis is the most pronounced followed by TFF1, whereas TFF2 synthesis is occasionally detectable but only in trace amounts. In contrast, TFF2 is the predominant TFF peptide excreted into the urine, and significantly increased urinary TFF2 levels (together with occasionally raised TFF3 levels) have been observed in patients suffering from nephrolithiasis. Thus, we consider that TFF3 plays a major part in regeneration and restitution processes in urinary tract epithelia. TFF2 and probably also TFF3 are candidate biomarkers for nephrolithiasis and possibly other inflammatory conditions of the urinary tract.

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Nephrolithiasis / pathology
  • Nephrolithiasis / urine
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / metabolism*
  • Peptides / urine*
  • Protein Transport
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Trefoil Factor-1
  • Trefoil Factor-2
  • Trefoil Factor-3
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Urinary Tract / metabolism
  • Urinary Tract / pathology


  • Peptides
  • TFF1 protein, human
  • TFF2 protein, human
  • TFF3 protein, human
  • Trefoil Factor-1
  • Trefoil Factor-2
  • Trefoil Factor-3
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins