Purpose: To determine the effect of keratinocyte growth factor (KGF), a mesenchymally derived epithelial growth factor that can cause proliferation of pulmonary, gastrointestinal and mammary epithelia, on urothelium. Materials and Methods: Recombinant human KGF was systemically administered to rats and Rhesus monkeys, and the proliferative effects on the bladder were evaluated. Results: Keratinocyte growth factor causes proliferation of transitional epithelial cells. Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) expression in rat bladder is dramatically increased along the basal layer of urothelium 1, 3, 7 and 14 days after daily injections of KGF. Incorporation of 5-bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) at 7 and 14 days in the urothelium of KGF-treated rats parallels PCNA immunoreactivity and confirms that KGF increases DNA synthesis in urothelial cells. Urothelial cell proliferation is accompanied histologically by an increase in mitotic activity. Keratinocyte growth factor-induced PCNA expression is reversible upon cessation of KGF administration. Keratinocyte growth factor mRNA and receptor mRNA are detected by whole organ RNAse protection assays of the urinary bladder and the kidney of normal rats. Rhesus monkeys receiving KGF for 7 days demonstrate a dramatic incorporation of BrdU in the urothelium of the bladder and renal pelvis as well as in the collecting ducts of the kidney. Conclusion: Systemic administration of KGF causes rapid and striking proliferation of urothelium.
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