Transforming growth factor alpha (TGF-alpha) is produced by and required for the growth of epithelial cells and is angiogenic in vivo. Since epidermal hyperplasia and angiogenesis are hallmarks of psoriasis, TGF-alpha gene expression was analyzed in epidermal biopsies of normal and psoriatic skin. TGF-alpha messenger RNA and protein are much more abundant in lesional psoriatic epidermis than in normal-appearing skin of psoriatic patients or in normal epidermis. In contrast, messenger RNA levels of transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-beta 1), which inhibits epithelial cell growth, are not significantly different in normal, uninvolved, and lesional psoriatic epidermis. Thus, psoriatic epidermal hyperplasia may involve increased expression of a keratinocyte mitogen (TGF-alpha) rather than deficient expression of a growth inhibitor (TGF-beta 1).

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