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Curr Pharm Des. 2006;12(19):2397-408.

Therapeutic modulation of growth factors and cytokines in regenerative medicine.

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Department of Periodontology, School of Dental Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center, USA.


Regeneration that takes place in the human body is limited throughout life. Therefore, when organs are irreparably damaged, they are usually replaced with an artificial device or donor organ. The term "regenerative medicine" covers the restoration or replacement of cells, tissues, and organs. Stem cells play a major role in regenerative medicine by providing the way to repopulate organs damaged by disease. Stem cells have the ability to self renew and to regenerate cells of diverse lineages within the tissue in which they reside. Stem cells could originate from embryos or adult tissues. Growth factors are proteins that may act locally or systemically to affect the growth of cells in several ways. Various cell activities, including division, are influenced by growth factors. Cytokines are a family of low-molecular-weight proteins that are produced by numerous cell types and are responsible for regulating the immune response, inflammation, tissue remodeling and cellular differentiation. Target cells of growth factors and cytokines are mesenchymal, epithelial and endothelial cells. These molecules frequently have overlapping activities and can act in an autocrine or paracrine fashion. A complex network of growth factors and cytokines guides cellular differentiation and regeneration in all organs and tissues. The aim of this paper is to review the role of growth factors and cytokines in different organs or systems and explore their therapeutic application in regenerative medicine. The role of stem cells combined with growth factors and cytokines in the regeneration of vascular and hematopoietic, neural, skeletal, pancreatic, periodontal, and mucosal tissue is reviewed. There is evidence that supports the use of growth factors and cytokines in the treatment of neurological diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, periodontal disease, cancer and its complication, oral mucositis. After solving the ethical issues and establishing clear and reasonable regulations, regenerative medicine through stem cell application combined with specific growth factors and cytokines will have great potential in curing a variety of human diseases.

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