To evaluate the role of growth factors in amniotic fluid and in human milk on gastrointestinal adaptation of the fetus and very low-birth-weight infants, the effects of these fluids and multiple growth factors were investigated in a human fetal small intestinal cell line (FHs 74 Int).
After FHs 74 Int cells were incubated with amniotic fluid, human milk, or recombinant growth factors, growth-promoting activity was measured by [3H]-thymidine incorporation into cells.
Incubating cells with amniotic fluid or human milk promoted growth dose dependently. Genistein almost completely inhibited growth-promoting activity in amniotic fluid P = 0.002), and growth was partially inhibited by antibodies against epidermal growth factor (EGF) (P = 0.047), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1, P = 0.047), or fibroblast growth factor (FGF, P = 0.014). This activity in human milk was inhibited almost completely by genistein (P < 0.0001) and partially inhibited by antibodies against EGF (P = 0.036), IGF-1 (P = 0.009), FGF (P = 0.004), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF, P = 0.001), or transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha, P = 0.001). Although recombinant EGF, IGF-1, FGF, HGF, and TGF-alpha elicited a synergistic trophic response on cultured cells, the response was much less than with amniotic fluid or with human milk.
In aminiotic fluid and in human milk, EGF, IGF-1, FGF, HGF, and TGF-alpha have a strong trophic effect on immature intestinal cells and may be involved in perinatal gastrointestinal adaptation.