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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2001 Aug;108(2):423-9.

Differential expression of transforming growth factor-beta receptors I and II and activation of Smad 3 in keloid fibroblasts.

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  • 1Children's Surgical Research Program, Department of Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5148, USA.


Keloids represent a dysregulated response to cutaneous wounding that results in an excessive deposition of extracellular matrix, especially collagen. However, the molecular mechanisms regulating this pathologic collagen deposition still remain to be elucidated. A previous study by this group demonstrated that transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1 and -beta2 ligands were expressed at greater levels in keloid fibroblasts when compared with normal human dermal fibroblasts (NHDFs), suggesting that TGF-beta may play a fibrosis-promoting role in keloid pathogenesis.To explore the biomolecular mechanisms of TGF-beta in keloid formation, the authors first compared the expression levels of the type I and type II TGF-beta receptors in keloid fibroblasts and NHDFs. Next, they investigated the phosphorylation of Smad 3, an intracellular TGF-beta signaling molecule, in keloid fibroblasts and NHDFs. Finally, they examined the regulation of TGF-beta receptor II by TGF-beta1, TGF-beta2, and TGF-beta3 ligands. Our findings demonstrated an increased expression of TGF-beta receptors (types I and II) and increased phosphorylation of Smad 3 in keloid fibroblasts relative to NHDFs. These data support a possible role of TGF-beta and its receptors as fibrosis-inducing growth factors in keloids. In addition, all three isoforms of recombinant human TGF-beta proteins could further stimulate the expression of TGF-beta receptor II in both keloids and NHDFs. Taken together, these results substantiate the hypothesis that the elevated levels of TGF-beta ligands and receptors present in keloids may support increased signaling and a potential role for TGF-beta in keloid pathogenesis.

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