Epidermal growth factor replaces estrogen in the stimulation of female genital-tract growth and differentiation.
The in vivo studies presented here demonstrate that epidermal growth factor (EGF) is an important autocrine and/or paracrine mediator of estrogen-induced growth and differentiation in mouse uterus and vagina. An antibody specific for EGF significantly inhibited estrogen-induced uterine and vaginal growth, thereby implicating EGF involvement in estrogen action. Furthermore, EGF administered via slow-release pellets in ovariectomized mice acted as a potent uterine and vaginal mitogen as well as an inducer of vaginal keratinization. Experiments with ovariectomized, adrenalectomized, hypophysectomized mice indicated that EGF mitogenesis does not require pituitary or adrenal hormones. Treatment with EGF also mimicked estrogen in the induction of uterine lactoferrin (a major estrogen-inducible secretory protein) mRNA and protein. These data suggest that EGF has estrogen-like effects in the promotion of cell growth in the reproductive tract and that EGF may serve as an important mediator of estrogen action in vivo.
Nelson, KG; Takahashi, T; Bossert, NL; Walmer, DK; McLachlan, JA
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