Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1, -β2, -β3, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in keratinocytes of burn scars

T. E. Hakvoort, V. Altun, P. P.M. Van Zuijlen, W. I. De Boer, W. A.A.M. Van Schadewijk, Th H. Van der Kwast

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Keratinocytes are increasingly recognized as key regulators of skin inflammation and remodeling, as they are capable of producing growth factors and cytokines that are important mediators in the wound healing process. We investigated the expression and distribution of TGF-β1 mRNA by mRNA in situ hybridization and of TGF-β1, TGF-β2, TGF-β3, bFGF and VEGF protein expression using immunohistochemistry in spontaneously healed, partial-thickness burns and compared this with the expression of these markers in matched unburned skin. This was done to assess their role in the remodeling phase of burn wound healing. Punch biopsies were taken from both partial-thickness burns after re-epithelialization and from matched, unburned skin. At 4 and 7 months post-burn, biopsies were taken of normotrophic and hypertrophic scars that had developed in these wounds. We observed a higher expression of all mentioned growth factors in keratinocytes in scars at 1 month post-burn compared with matched unburned skin. At 4 months, keratinocytes still displayed a higher expression of TGF-β3 and bFGF, but the expression of TGF-β1, TGF-β2 and VEGF was normalized. The expression of TGF-β3 in the epidermis of hypertrophic scars was slightly higher than in normotrophic scars. At 7 months post-burn, all growth factors studied showed a normal expression on keratinocytes. Our results suggest that keratinocytes are not only involved in re-epithelialization, but also in the scar maturation. The data support the idea that keratinocytes not only respond to cytokines and growth factors in an autocrine fashion, but also exert regulatory paracrine effects on contiguous cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-239
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Cytokine Network
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000


  • Burn
  • Growth factor
  • Scar

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