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Minerva Medica 2013 February;104(1):85-91

language: English

Paracrine activity of heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor in atherogenesis: an immunohistochemical study

Castrogiovanni P. 1, Scuderi R. 2, Travali S. 1, Failla A. 2, Failla G. 3, Imbesi R. 1

1 Department of Bio-Medical Science, University of Catania, Catania, Italy;
2 Department of Internal Medicine and Systemic Diseases, Policlinic of Catania, University of Catania, Catania, Italy;
3 U.O. Complex Vascular Surgery and Transplant Centre, Policlinic of Catania, University of Catania, Catania, Italy


Aim: Cells involved in atherogenesis produce growth factors crucial for the progression of the atherosclerotic lesions. One of them is the heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF), a member of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family, synthesized as a transmembrane precursor (proHB-EGF). This anchored insoluble juxtacrine growth factor can be converted into a soluble molecule with paracrine activity and mature HB-EGF is released in the extracellular matrix from the cell surface. HB-EGF is a potent stimulator of cell proliferation, migration and cell motility and several studies show that HB-EGF is associated with pathologies of hyperplasia of smooth muscle cells including atherosclerosis.
Methods: We localized HB-EGF by immunohistochemistry within the atherosclerotic lesions collected from right or left internal carotid artery of 20 patients with evident clinical symptoms.
Results: In the 20 samples we tested, the proportion of positive samples was significant. Considering the only positive samples the proportion difference related to the gender of patients was highly significant.
Conclusion: The aim of our investigation was to better understand if this growth factor exerts its role through a juxtacrine or paracrine mechanism, or both in the process of atherogenesis. According to the results, the paracrine role of HB-EGF was clear.

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