Editors' ChoiceWound Healing

The Closer

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Science Translational Medicine  17 Nov 2010:
Vol. 2, Issue 58, pp. 58ec180
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001912

Growth hormone–releasing hormone (GHRH), as its name implies, stimulates the production and release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland, increasing cell division and regeneration in humans and other animals. So-called GHRH-stimulating supplements have been hyped by the popular press and hawked as antiaging and muscle-pumping elixers. But although GHRH does appear to act directly on extrapituitary tissues, these ancillary effects remain incompletely understood. Building on the recent finding that human fibroblasts proliferate in response to GHRH, Dioufa et al. now report that GHRH, by promoting cell migration, can accelerate the wound-healing process.

The researchers demonstrated that GHRH and its agonistic analog, JI-38, stimulated mouse embryonic fibroblasts to express α–smooth muscle actin, a protein that confers tensile and contractile activity and is therefore intimately involved in the skin tissue repair process. Accordingly, GHRH and JI-38 considerably accelerated the migration of mouse fibroblasts in vitro. Furthermore, when treated topically with GHRH or JI-38, skin wounds in mice healed significantly faster and had a higher number of fibroblasts compared with untreated controls.

As the effects of GHRH on extrapituitary tissues are elucidated, certain newly revealed properties of the hormone may be applicable in a clinical setting. For instance, GHRH has been found to promote tumor growth, and, consequently, antagonistic analogs have been touted as potential therapies against cancer. Although the wound-healing effects of GHRH shown by Dioufa et al. require further testing in human models of skin tissue repair, the topical application of GHRH or its agonists may represent a potentially useful adjunctive therapy for skin wounds that result from surgery, disease, or traumatic injuries.

N. Dioufa et al., Acceleration of wound healing by growth hormone-releasing hormone and its agonists. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 107, 18611–18615 (2010). [Abstract]

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