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J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2000 Dec;5(1):34-9.

Expression and function of keratinocyte growth factor and activin in skin morphogenesis and cutaneous wound repair.

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Institute of Cell Biology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Z├╝rich.


Reepithelialization and granulation tissue formation during cutaneous wound repair are mediated by a wide variety of growth and differentiation factors. Recent studies from our laboratory provided evidence for an important role of keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) in the repair of the injured epithelium and for a novel function of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily member activin in granulation tissue formation. KGF is weakly expressed in human skin, but is strongly upregulated in dermal fibroblasts after skin injury. Its binding to a transmembrane receptor on keratinocytes induces proliferation and migration of these cells. Furthermore, KGF has been shown to protect epithelial cells from the toxic effects of reactive oxygen species. We have identified a series of KGF-regulated genes that are likely to play a role in these processes. In addition to KGF, activin seems to be a novel player in wound healing. Activin expression is hardly detectable in nonwounded skin, but this factor is highly expressed in redifferentiating keratinocytes of the hyperproliferative wound epithelium as well as in cells of the granulation tissue. To gain insight into the role of activin in wound repair, we generated transgenic mice that overexpress activin in basal keratinocytes of the epidermis. These mice were characterized by a hyperthickened epidermis and by dermal fibrosis. Most importantly, overexpression of activin strongly enhanced the process of granulation tissue formation, demonstrating a novel and important role of activin in cutaneous wound repair.

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