In order to understand where cytokines and growth factors come from, we need to take a closer look at stem cells and how they carry out their functions.
Most of us know stem cells can differentiate to build new cells and tissue, but another role of stem cells is to orchestrate the action of other cells in the body, including the body’s natural healing and regeneration response. To carry out these actions, stem cells communicate by producing and releasing proteins called cytokines and growth factors. Controlled release of these cytokines and growth factors by stem cells will activate the biochemical pathways in adjacent cells and therefore command and control essential processes in the body. All cytokines and growth factors bind to specific receptors on cell membranes, stimulating the cells to carry out a precise and intricate response, thus giving the cell its ‘directions’. The types of cytokines and growth factors number in the thousands, each with its specific action. For skin renewal, these would include Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) and Transforming Growth Factor (TGF) amongst others. It’s important to note that no single growth factor determines the outcome within the cells. It’s the unique mix of peptides in specific proportions designed by nature that triggers our skin to repair and grow.
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