FGF – that is, fibroblast growth factor – represents a group of cytokines. FGF is famous for its ability to cause the growth of cells. A few decades ago, FGFs were used only for the growth of fibroblasts. However, recently, studies have suggested that they can also be used for the growth of other cells such as melanocytes, muscle cells, chrondrocytes and endothelial cells. FGFs can also perform functions other than causing the growth of cells. For instance, they can create differentiation among adipocytes. They can also cause the body to make fibroblast IL-6 and macrophage. In addition, their ability to make the neurons stay alive for a long period and allow the movement of astrocytes to other body parts has made them an important discovery for mankind. Thus it can be clearly seen that even though these cytokines have been named as fibroblast growth factor, the growth of fibroblast is just one of the many functions that they perform.
Fibroblast growth factors belongs to the heparin-binding family of growth factors, and carries the pro-angiogenic factors by the interactions of endothelial cell surface receptors, for example the likes of heparin-sulfate proteoglycans, integrins and tyrosine kinase receptors. Endothelial cells are the ones that line the inner surface of the blood vessels. Their specific activity is controlled by numerous extracellular and free molecules. There have been some indications that inflammatory cytokines or vascular endothelial growth factors might be responsible for the modulations of blood vessels in various pathological conditions including cancers, while some experiments indeed conclude that FGF might have a role in the angiogenesis – a process of the formation of blood vessels – and tumor growth.
Currently, there are twenty three cytokines in the FGF group. However, only twenty two cytokines have spotted out. These cytokines are: FGF-1 to FGF-14 and FGF-16 to FGF-23. These cytokines are made of “120 amino acid (aa) core region. This region, in turn, is made of a group of similar amino acids. The cytokines act outside the cells with the help of 4 “tyrosine kinase FGF receptors”.
So far, an important use of the fibroblast growth factor has been in the use in the field of products for the care of skin. Owing to the competitive nature of the skin care industry, any decent innovations are normally touted with great respect, and the FGF’s possible intervention with the skin care process has garnered a great deal of attention lately. The human skin ages when the epidermal cells (of which the skin is made of) grow at a rate which is lower than usual. This rate becomes slower and slower with age. The skin also becomes less vascular. As a result, the skin sags and wrinkles appear on it.
All this is known as “senescence” of the skin. This occurs when the cells cannot grow properly because the DNA is damaged and cannot be fully repaired. Further damage of the DNA makes the skin hard. The skin is mainly made of two types of substances which make it strong. These are collagen and elastin. Collagen is a type of protein. It is mainly found in the white fibrous parts of bones and cartilage. On the other hand, elastin – another protein – is found in the tissues of the skin blood vessels. The elastin is responsible for the elasticity of skin – that is, how well the skin can stretch and then return back to its normal condition.
Fibroblast growth factor, especially FGF-1, prevents the DNA damage as well as the senescence of the skin. It also keeps the skin vascular and elastic – showing that it is one of best substances for the skin.