Growth factor

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Growth factors stimulate the growth of the cell. The growth of the cell is defined as an increase in cell mass. The increase in cell mass occurs by promoting the synthesis or proteins and other macromolecules and also inhibiting the degradation of the cells. Growth factors are usually proteins or steriod hormones and are used to regulate specific cell processes[1].

A growth factor is an extracellular protein which is able to trigger a cell to grow and therefore cause an increase in the mass of the cell. They do this by encouraging the synthesis of macromolecules such as proteins. In addition, growth factors inhibit the degradation of such macromolecules. Other functions of the growth factor consist of stimulating the cells to survive and proliferate. Two examples of growth factors are platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and epidermal growth factor (EGF). PDGF has the ability to stimulate many types of cell to divide, for instance smooth muscle cells, neurological cells as well as fibroblasts. Correspondingly, EGF does not only act upon epidermal cells but also on epithelial and nonepithelial cells[2].


  1. Alberts B, et al. (2008). Molecular Biology of the Cell (5 ed.). pg 1101-1110. New York: Garland Science.
  2. Alberts, B. Johnson, A. Lewis, J. Raff, M. Roberts, K. Walter, P. (2008) Molecular Biology of THE CELL5th edn. United States of America: Garland Science, Taylor and Francis Group. (p.1102-1103)

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