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Br J Surg. 1999 Jun;86(6):740-8.

Trefoil peptides and surgical disease.

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University Department of Surgery, Bristol Royal Infirmary, UK.



Trefoil peptides are a family of small proteins that are expressed in a site-specific fashion by certain epithelial tissues. These peptides appear to be important in mucosal healing processes and in neoplastic disease.


This manuscript reviews the relevant literature obtained by an extensive text word search of the Medline database and a manual search of references from the articles identified.


Trefoil peptides are aberrantly expressed by a wide range of human carcinomas and gastrointestinal inflammatory conditions. They impart protection from injury to the gastrointestinal mucosa by possible interaction with mucin glycoproteins. Trefoil peptides influence epithelial cell migration and mucosal restitution following injury. In the future, serum levels of trefoil peptides might be used as markers for both neoplastic and inflammatory diseases. In addition, novel therapies based on such peptides might be used for gastrointestinal inflammatory conditions and to accelerate repair of the gastrointestinal mucosa after surgery.

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