Epidermal keratinocytes, which can be severely damaged after ionizing radiation (IR), are rapid turnover cells that function as a barrier, protecting the host from pathogenic invasion and fluid loss. We tested fibroblast growth factor-peptide (FGF-P), a small peptide derived from the receptor-binding domain of FGF-2, as a potential mitigator of radiation effects via proliferation and the barrier function of keratinocytes.

Keratinocytes isolated from neonatal foreskin were grown on transwells. After being exposed to 0, 5, or 10 Gy IR, the cells were treated with a vehicle or FGF-P. The permeability of IR cells was assessed by using transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and a paracellular tracer flux of fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated bovine serum albumin (FITC-BSA) with Ussing chambers. The cell proliferation was measured with yellow tetrazolium salt (MTT) and tritiated thymidine ([3H]-TdR) assays. The phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) was measured in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent (ELISA)-like assay, and the proteins related to tight junctions (TJ) and adherens junctions (AJ) were examined with Western blotting. We used a mouse model to assess the ability of FGF-P to promote the healing of skin β burns created with a strontium applicator.

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