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J Pediatr. 2010 Feb;156(2 Suppl):S31-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2009.11.018.

Milk epidermal growth factor and gut protection.

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1
Department of Pediatrics, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA. dvorakb@peds.arizona.edu

Abstract

Maternal milk is a complex fluid, with multifunctional roles within the developing gastrointestinal tract. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) and heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF) are members of the family of EGF-related peptides. Biological actions of these growth factors are mediated via interaction with the EGF-receptor (EGF-R). In the early postnatal period, breast milk is the major source of EGF for the developing intestinal mucosa. HB-EGF is also detected in breast milk, but in concentrations 2 to 3 times lower than EGF. With normal physiological conditions, the intestinal epithelium undergoes a continuing process of cell proliferation, differentiation, and maturation. EGF plays an important role in these processes. In pathophysiologic situations, EGF contributes to epithelial protection from injury and post-injury mucosal repair. Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a devastating disease affecting infants born prematurely. The pathogenesis of NEC is not known, and there is no effective treatment for this disease. In an experimental NEC model, oral administration of a physiological dose of EGF significantly reduces the incidence and severity of NEC. HB-EGF provides similar protection against NEC, but only when pharmacological doses are used. Further studies are necessary before EGF can be introduced as an efficient therapeutic approach of intestinal injury.

PMID:
20105663
PMCID:
PMC2852639
DOI:
10.1016/j.jpeds.2009.11.018
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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