Epidermal growth factor is critical for intestinal adaptation following small bowel resection

Lawrence E. Stern, Christopher R. Erwin, David P. O'Brien, Frederick Huang, Brad W. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The loss of small intestinal mucosal surface area is a relatively common clinical situation seen in both the pediatric and adult population. The most frequent causes include mesenteric ischemia, trauma, inflammatory bowel disease, necrotizing enterocolitis, and volvulus. Following surgical resection, the remnant intestine compensates or adapts to the loss of native bowel by increasing its absorptive surface area and functional capacity. Unfortunately, many patients fail to adapt adequately, and are relegated to lifelong intravenous nutrition. Research into intestinal adaptation following small bowel resection (SBR) has evolved only recently from the gross and microscopic level to the biochemical and genetic level. As understanding of this process has increased, numerous therapeutic strategies to augment adaptation have been proposed. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is an endogenous peptide that is secreted into the gastrointestinal tract and able to influence gut ontogeny, as well as mucosal healing. Early studies have demonstrated its ability to augment the adaptive process. Focusing on a murine model of massive intestinal loss, the morphological, structural, biochemical, and genetic changes that occur during the intestinal adaptive process will be reviewed. The role of EGF and its receptor as critical mediators of the adaptive process will be discussed. Additionally, the ability of EGF to augment intestinal proliferation and diminish programmed cell death (apoptosis) following SBR will be examined. Enhancing adaptation in a controlled manner may allow patients to transition off parenteral nutrition to enteral feeding and, thereby, normalize their lifestyle. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-148
Number of pages11
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 15 2000


  • Apoptosis
  • Mouse
  • Proliferation
  • Short gut syndrome
  • TGF-alpha
  • Transgenic


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