Clinical application of growth factors and cytokines in wound healing

Wound Repair Regen. Sep-Oct 2014;22(5):569-78. doi: 10.1111/wrr.12205.


Wound healing is a complex and dynamic biological process that involves the coordinated efforts of multiple cell types and is executed and regulated by numerous growth factors and cytokines. There has been a drive in the past two decades to study the therapeutic effects of various growth factors in the clinical management of nonhealing wounds (e.g., pressure ulcers, chronic venous ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers). For this review, we conducted an online search of Medline/PubMed and critically analyzed the literature regarding the role of growth factors and cytokines in the management of these wounds. We focused on currently approved therapies, emerging therapies, and future research possibilities. In this review, we discuss four growth factors and cytokines currently being used on and off label for the healing of wounds. These include granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, platelet-derived growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, and basic fibroblast growth factor. While the clinical results of using growth factors and cytokines are encouraging, many studies involved a small sample size and are disparate in measured endpoints. Therefore, further research is required to provide definitive evidence of efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetic Foot / drug therapy*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / therapeutic use*
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Pressure Ulcer / drug therapy*
  • Varicose Ulcer / drug therapy*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / therapeutic use*
  • Wound Healing


  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor