Gingival wound healing is important to periodontal disease and surgery. This in vitro study was conducted to assess the manner in which heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) and epiregulin cooperatively participate in the wound-healing process in the gingival epithelial and fibroblast cells of the oral mucosa. Material and Methods: Gingival epithelium and fibroblast were separated from gingival tissue biopsies and prepared to primary cultures. The changes in the mRNA expression were evaluated via real-time PCR. The effects on cell proliferation, migration, and repopulation were evaluated in vitro. Results: The different regulation of expressions of HB-EGF, epiregulin, and epidermal growth factor receptors was observed over time and with different gingival cell types. HB-EGF exerted a cell migration-inducing effect on both epithelial and fibroblast cells, whereas epiregulin did not. Both growth factors functioned as mitogens for epithelial cell proliferation, but not for fibroblast proliferation. HB-EGF strongly promoted epithelial cell repopulation and mildly promoted fibroblast repopulation, whereas epiregulin promoted only fibroblast repopulation. Conclusion: These results indicated that both growth factors might function importantly in the wound-healing process of human gingival tissue via the different regulation of the expression, cell migration, proliferation, and repopulation.
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