Wound healing is an evolutionarily conserved, complex, multicellular process that, in skin, aims at barrier restoration. This process involves the coordinated efforts of several cell types including keratinocytes, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, macrophages, and platelets. The migration, infiltration, proliferation, and differentiation of these cells will culminate in an inflammatory response, the formation of new tissue and ultimately wound closure. This complex process is executed and regulated by an equally complex signaling network involving numerous growth factors, cytokines and chemokines. Of particular importance is the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family, transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) family, fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), interleukin (IL) family, and tumor nerosis factor-α family. Currently, patients are treated by three growth factors: PDGF-BB, bFGF, and GM-CSF. Only PDGF-BB has successfully completed randomized clinical trials in the Unites States. With gene therapy now in clinical trial and the discovery of biodegradable polymers, fibrin mesh, and human collagen serving as potential delivery systems other growth factors may soon be available to patients. This review will focus on the specific roles of these growth factors and cytokines during the wound healing process.
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