Bothwell, Mark Biochemical Sciences Laboratory, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey.
Last reviewed:August 2019
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- Families of growth factors
- Nerve growth factor
- Epidermal and transforming growth factors
- Insulin-like and somatemedin growth factors
- Platelet-derived and fibroblast growth factors
- A broader family
- Growth factors and cancer
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Any of a group of biologically active polypeptides that function as hormonelike regulatory signals, controlling the growth and differentiation of responsive cells. Growth factors are proteinaceous substances (genetic or extrinsic) that affect cell growth, proliferation, and differentiation. Growth factors can be identified merely as growth-promoting agents; in addition, they can be identified as highly purified discrete molecular species. Generally, growth factors discovered in this way have been polypeptides. Like polypeptide hormones, the action of growth factors on cells depends on binding to specific cell-surface receptors (proteins) [Fig. 1]. Indeed, the distinction between growth factors and hormones is frequently arbitrary and stems more from the manner of their discovery than from a clear difference in function. See also: Cell (biology); Cell differentiation; Hormone; Peptide; Protein
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