Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is localised in man to salivary and Brunner's glands. It is present in large concentrations in saliva and duodenal contents but the mechanisms of its release have been little studied. This study carried out on four groups of healthy subjects was designed to determine the distribution and the release of immunoreactive EGF (IR-EGF) in salivary, gastric, duodenal, and pancreatic secretions. Under basal conditions, the concentrations of IR-EGF in salivary, gastric, duodenal and pancreatic secretions were; 2.7 (0.4), 0.42 (0.12), 21 (5) and 8.5 (1.2) ng/ml, respectively. Chewing of Parafilm* significantly increased salivary but not gastric or duodenal EGF output while atropinisation led to the reduction in basal salivary and duodenal EGF output without affecting the increment in EGF release induced by chewing. Cigarette smoking caused a marked reduction in basal salivary and duodenal EGF output. Infusion of pentagastrin increased salivary and duodenal EGF output and this was blocked by the addition of somatostatin. Injection of secretin lead to an increase in pancreatic output of EGF. We conclude that in man the major sources of EGF are salivary glands, duodenum, and pancreas and that the release of EGF remains under neurohormonal control.
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