, Volume 66, Issue 8, pp 1350-1369
Date: 19 Dec 2008

The trefoil factor family – small peptides with multiple functionalities

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The trefoil factor family (TFF) comprises a group of small peptides which are highly expressed in tissues containing mucus-producing cells – especially in the mucosa lining the gastrointestinal tract. The peptides seem crucial for epithelial restitution and may work via other pathways than the conventional factors involved in restitution. In vitro studies have shown that the TFFs promote restitution using multiple mechanisms. The peptides also have other functionalities including interactions with the immune system. Moreover, therapeutic effects of the TFFs have been shown in several animal models of gastrointestinal damage. Still it is not clear which of their in vitro properties are involved in the in vivo mode of action. This review describes the TFF family with emphasis on their biological properties and involvement in mucosal protection and repair.

Received 10 October 2008; received after revision 07 November 2008; accepted 10 November 2008