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J Cell Physiol. 1991 Jul;148(1):157-73.

Direct evidence for spatial and temporal regulation of transforming growth factor beta 1 expression during cutaneous wound healing.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, California 94305.


The expression of transforming growth factor (TGF beta 1) protein in human and porcine skin has been analyzed by immunohistochemistry with two polyclonal antibodies (anti-CC and anti-LC) following cutaneous injury. The anti-LC antibody binds intracellular TGF beta 1 constitutively expressed in the nonproliferating, differentiated suprabasal keratinocytes in the epidermis of normal human skin, while the anti-CC antibody does not react with the form of TGF beta 1 present in normal skin as previously shown. TGF beta 1 may play a role in wound healing as suggested by its effect on multiple cell types in vitro and its acceleration of wound repair in animals. We have evaluated the natural expression and localization of TGF beta 1 protein in situ during initiation, progression, and resolution of the wound healing response in two models of cutaneous injury: the human suction blister and the dermatome excision of partial thickness procine skin. Anti-CC reactive TGF beta 1 in the epidermis is rapidly induced within 5 minutes following injury and progresses outward from the site of injury. The induction reflects a structural or conformational change in TGF beta 1 protein and can be blocked by the protease inhibitor leupeptin or by EDTA, suggesting a change in TGF beta 1 activity. One day post-injury anti-CC reactive TGF beta 1 is present in all epidermal keratinocytes adjacent to the wound including the basal cells. This corresponds temporally to the transient block of the basal keratinocyte mitotic burst following epithelial injury. Three to 4 days post-injury anti-CC reactive TGF beta 1 is localized around the suprabasal keratinocytes, in blood vessels, and in the papillary dermis in cellular infiltrates. The exclusion of TGF beta 1 from the rapidly proliferating basal cells and its extracellular association with suprabasal keratinocytes may represent physiological compartmentation of TGF beta 1 activity. Anti-CC staining is strong in the leading edge of the migrating epithelial sheet. The constitutive anti-LC reactivity with suprabasal keratinocytes seen in normal epidermis is neither relocalized nor abolished adjacent to the injury, but anti-LC staining is absent in the keratinocytes migrating within the wound. As the wound healing response resolves and the skin returns to normal, anti-CC reactive TGF beta 1 disappears while constitutive anti-LC reactive TGF beta 1 persists. Thus, changes in the structure or conformation of TGF beta 1, its localization, and perhaps its activity vary in a spatial and temporal manner following cutaneous injury and correlate with physiological changes during wound healing.

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