Growth factor are natural polypeptide substancesthat can stimulate the growth, differentiation or proliferation of living cells, thus, they have a wide range of effects on many cells. As a rule, steroid and peptide hormones are growth factors. Growth factors act as signaling molecules that provide interactions between cells.
Unlike hormones, these substances are usually produced by non-specialized cells that are present in body tissues. Production and transportation endocrine growth factors carried through the bloodstream. After reaching their goal, they interact with high affinity receptors. This is the main purpose of the factors. Paracrine growth factors spread in another way - through diffusion. Autocrine affect cells, which became their direct source. Thus, different growth factors act differently, but everyone has one end goal. Basically, all growth factors work on the autocrine and paracrine type. Despite a wide variety of growth factors and their cellular responses, general regulation rules can be distinguished for all:
- One cell can interact with several growth factors, and one growth factor can affect different cells.
- Maintaining normal cell viability of higher organisms is important because of the interaction with the right combination of specific growth factors.
- The nature of the response, susceptibility, as well as the level of expression are specific for different types of cells.
An example of a growth factor is cytokines, as well as hormones that bind to cellular receptors.
For the discovery of growth factors, nerves in particular, a neurobiologist from Italy Rita Levi-Montalcini, together with Stanley Cohen, were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.
Over the past few decades, growth factors have increasingly been used in the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular and hematological diseases, including:
- Bone marrow transplantation
- Aplastic anemia
- Antionegenesis of vascular and heart diseases, etc.