Heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor and mesenchymal stem cells act synergistically to prevent experimental necrotizing enterocolitis

Jixin Yang, Daniel Watkins, Chun Liang Chen, Bharath Bhushan, Yu Zhou, Gail E. Besner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Background: We have shown that administration of heparin-binding EGF (epidermal growth factor)-like growth factor (HB-EGF) protects the intestines from experimental necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). We have also demonstrated that systemically administered mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) can engraft into injured intestines. This study investigated the effects of HB-EGF on MSC in vitro, and whether MSC and HB-EGF can act synergistically to prevent NEC in vivo. Study Design: In vitro, the effect of HB-EGF on MSC proliferation, migration, and apoptosis was determined. In vivo, rat pups received MSC either intraperitoneally (IP) or intravenously (IV). Pups were assigned to 1 of 7 groups: Group 1, breast-fed; Group 2, experimental NEC; Group 3, NEC+HB-EGF; Group 4, NEC+MSC IP; Group 5, NEC+HB-EGF+MSC IP; Group 6, NEC+MSC IV; or Group 7, NEC+HB-EGF+MSC IV. Mesechymal stem cell engraftment, histologic injury, intestinal permeability, and mortality were determined. Results: Heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor promoted MSC proliferation and migration, and decreased MSC apoptosis in vitro. In vivo, MSC administered IV had increased engraftment into NEC-injured intestine compared with MSC administered IP (p < 0.05). Heparin binding EGF-like growth factor increased engraftment of IP-administered MSC (p < 0.01) and IV-administered MSC (p < 0.05). Pups in Groups 3 to 7 had a decreased incidence of NEC compared with nontreated pups (Group 2), with the lowest incidence in pups treated with HB-EGF+MSC IV (p < 0.01). Pups in Group 7 had a significantly decreased incidence of intestinal dilation and perforation, and had the lowest intestinal permeability, compared with other treatment groups (p < 0.01). Pups in all experimental groups had significantly improved survival compared with pups exposed to NEC, with the best survival in Group 7 (p < 0.05). Conclusions: Heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor and MSC act synergistically to reduce injury and improve survival in experimental NEC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-545
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • 4,6-Diamidino-2-Phenylindole Dihydrochloride
  • D-MEM
  • DAPI
  • Dulbecco's Modified Eagle Medium
  • FD
  • HB-EGF
  • IP
  • MSC
  • NEC
  • YFP
  • fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labeled dextran
  • heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor
  • intraperitoneal
  • mesenchymal stem cells
  • necrotizing enterocolitis
  • yellow fluorescent protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor and mesenchymal stem cells act synergistically to prevent experimental necrotizing enterocolitis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this