Growth factors and their use in short bowel

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Purpose of review

To examine the most recent literature on the clinical trials associated with the relevant growth factors that have been of interest in the treatment of short bowel.

Recent findings

Short bowel is a rare but devastating condition that condemns patients to lifelong parenteral support. Historically, treatment options negating the need for parenteral support were limited. Therapeutic growth factor use is of interest, but the clinical trial data are inconclusive. The STEPS-2 trial was the first trial that showed a sustained positive effect of the growth factor glucagon-like peptide-2 (GLP-2). This led to a phase shift in the management of short bowel, with the US Food and Drug Administration approval of the GLP-2 analogue teduglutide in 2012. This review summarizes all the relevant clinical trials of growth factors in the treatment of short bowel.


GLP-2 has shown that growth factors can revolutionize the treatment of short bowel. Data however are lacking with regards to the solitary use of other factors. This review highlights the need for further work using the factors in combination as well as considering their use in novel methods for example in the field of regenerative medicine.

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