Growth factors accelerate epithelial repair in sheep trachea

Robert E. Barrow, Cheng Z. Wang, Michael J. Evans, David N. Herndon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Toxic gases and fumes have been shown to be injurious to the upper airways. Repair of this injury involves proliferation and migration of surviving nonciliated cells, followed by differentiation to a normal phenotype. Because recent results suggested that growth factors could improve the outcome of an airway injury, we undertook this study to determine the efficacy of these materials as an initial treatment to accelerate the healing process. In 24 anesthetized sheep, a portion of the trachea was exposed to smoke from smouldering cotton cooled to 37°C. Twelve received aerosolized epidermal growth factor plus platelet derived growth factor, while twelve received placebo. At 10 days after injury, nonciliated and ciliated cells were totally absent in the injured trachea receiving the placebo. In animals receiving growth factors, nonciliated and ciliated cells, however, were present (56% and 31% of uninjured trachea, respectively). At 13 days after injury, nonciliated and ciliated cell counts in those receiving placebo were 67% and 33% of uninjured, respectively. In sheep receiving growth factors, tracheal nonciliated and ciliated cell counts had increased to 105% and 64% of uninjured trachea, respectively. We conclude that growth factors therapy after airway injury stimulates cell proliferation and differentiation, and this therapeutic intervention to accelerate the repair process in acute airway injury is an approach applicable to humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-344
Number of pages10
JournalLung: An International Journal on Lungs, Airways and Breathing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Epidermal growth factor
  • Inhalation injury
  • Platelet derived growth factor
  • Tracheal repair process

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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