What is the role of epidermal growth factor (EGF) in the treatment of keloids and hypertrophic scars?

Updated: May 29, 2020
  • Author: Brian Berman, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is a growth factor produced by platelets, macrophages, and monocytes and is activated by binding with the EGF receptor present on keratinocytes and fibroblasts. [73] It acts by stimulating keratinocyte proliferation and altering fibroblast activity, resulting in reduced healing time and improved tensile strength of scars. [74, 75] It has been found to be involved in wound healing. It is up-regulated early in the fetal period and is thought to be an important cytokine in scarless fetal healing. [76]

The role of recombinant human EGF (rhEGF) in scars is being investigated. In a murine full-thickness wound model, rhEGF decreased TGF-beta1 expression, suppressing collagen deposition and reducing cutaneous scars. [77]

rhEGF has also been studied in human studies. Shin et al evaluated the effects of rhEGF for scar prevention post thyroidectomy. The total Vancouver Scar Scale (VSS) was significantly lower in the treatment compared with the control group, although erythema, pigmentation, elasticity, and hydration were not significantly different. [78]

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