Growth factors are compounds that act as chemical messengers between cells - turning on a variety of cellular activities. Growth factors play a role in cell division, new cell and blood vessel growth, and collagen and elastin production and distribution. Many growth factors used by the cosmetic industry are from bovine (cattle) sources in the form of colostrum polypeptides.
In an anti-aging situation, growth factors would need to be stimulated by some means. As an example, exercise induces insulin growth factors (IGF). Any stage of collagen replacement or repair requires some form of stimulation of a wound healing response. The ideal modalities are collagen induction therapy (CIT) and sonophoresis, both improve the penetration of any active ingredient and "wake up" the fibroblast.
Growth factors are predominately responsible for orchestrating and regulating cellular function and repair after injury. Most rejuvenation treatments rely on dramatically invasive chemical peels, light or radio frequency to burn the skin, which leads to release of TGF-B1 and TGF-B2 (transforming growth factors), TIMP-1, and Heat Shock Protein 47. These generate a fibrotic response that promotes scar collagen (thick, parallel orientated bundles). By contrast, collagen induction therapy results in increased TGF-B, FGF-7, and EGF which promotes natural collagen, with scarless wound healing. Understanding which growth factors produce positive effects, we can specifically target and manipulate cells to achieve desired results. Ideally, we want to limit the presence and duration of function of certain cells that contain deleterious growth factors and optimize those that result in a more natural, even tone and smooth healthy skin texture.
Source: The Concise Guide to Dermal Needling. Cell Function. page. 22, 24
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