Introduction: Thymosin β4 (Tβ4), a multifunctional peptide, has been used successfully in several clinical trials involving tissue repair and regeneration. The review will first update the current information on the common underlying cellular cascades and pathways that are basic to Tβ4's regenerative activity and second, on the current and potential uses of this protein in the clinic.
Areas covered: Significant advances in our understanding of the actions of Tβ4 have occurred in directing stem cell maturation and in regeneration and repair of injuries. Many of its activities directly affect the repair cascade following injury. Using PubMed, we summarize the discovery and isolation of Tβ4 as well as the studies on tissue repair, which have provided the scientific foundation for ongoing and projected trials in the treatment of eye injuries, dermal wounds, repair of the heart following myocardial infarction and healing of the brain following stroke, trauma or neurological diseases.
Expert opinion: Based on its multifunctional activities during tissue regeneration in various animal studies, Tβ4 has the potential for new clinical applications such kidney and liver disease, as well as repair of spinal cord, bone and ligament damage. In addition, it may be useful in the treatment of a wide range of other applications, including the consequences of aging and viral infections.
Keywords: angiogenesis; apoptosis; endothelial progenitor cells; fibrosis; inflammation; ischemic injury; migration; regeneration; scar formation; thymosin β4; tissue repair.