Epidermal growth factor or EGF is a growth factor that stimulates cell growth, proliferation, and differentiation by binding to its receptor EGFR. Human EGF is a 6045-Da protein with 53 amino acid residues and three intramolecular disulfide bonds. EGF results in cellular proliferation, differentiation, and survival. EGF is a low-molecular-weight polypeptide first purified from the mouse submandibular gland, but since then found in many human tissues including submandibular gland, parotid gland. Salivary EGF, which seems also regulated by dietary inorganic iodine, also plays an important physiological role in the maintenance of oro-esophageal and gastric tissue integrity. The biological effects of salivary EGF include healing of oral and gastro esophageal ulcers, inhibition of gastric acid secretion, stimulation of DNA synthesis as well as mucosal protection from intraluminal injurious factors such as gastric acid, bile acids, pepsin, and trypsin and to physical, chemical and bacterial agents. Increased activity of the receptor for EGF has been observed in certain types of cancer, often correlated with mutations in the receptor and abnormal function such as constitutive receptor signaling independent of the levels of EGF or of binding of EGF.

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