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Transient Hyperproliferation of a Transgenic Human Epidermis Expressing Hepatocyte Growth Factor

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Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a fibroblast-derived protein that affects the growth, motility, and differentiation of epithelial cells including epidermal keratinocytes. To investigate the role of HGF in cutaneous biology and to explore the possibility of using it in a tissue engineering approach, we used retroviral-mediated gene transfer to introduce the gene encoding human HGF into diploid human keratinocytes. Modified cells synthesized and secreted significant levels of HGF in vitro and the proliferation of keratinocytes expressing HGF was enhanced compared with control unmodified cells. To investigate the effects of HGF in vivo, we grafted modified keratinocytes expressing HGF onto athymic mice using acellular dermis as a substrate. When compared with controls, HGF-expressing keratinocytes formed a hyperproliferative epidermis. The epidermis was thicker, had more cells per length of basement membrane, and had increased numbers of Ki-67-positive proliferating cells, many of which were suprabasal in location. Hyperproliferation subsided and the epidermis was equivalent to controls by 2 weeks, a time frame that coincides with healing of the graft. Transient hyperproliferation may be linked to the loss of factors present in the wound that activate HGF. These data suggest that genetically modified skin substitutes secreting HGF may have applications in wound closure and the promotion of wound healing.

Keywords: Growth factor; Key words: Skin graft; Wound healin

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Center for Engineering in Medicine and Surgical Services, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Shriners Hospital for Children, Boston, MA

Publication date: 2002-04-01

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.
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