It is important in treatment of gastric ulcers to not only prevent further ulcer formation but also enhance ulcer healing. When cells are exposed to gastric irritants, expression of heat shock proteins (HSPs) is induced, making the cells resistant to the irritants. We recently reported direct evidence that HSPs, especially HSP70, are preventive against irritant-induced gastric ulcer formation. Gastric ulcer healing is a process involving cell proliferation and migration at the gastric ulcer margin and angiogenesis in granulation tissue. In this study, we have examined the role of HSP70 in gastric ulcer healing. Gastric ulcers were produced by focal and serosal application of acetic acid. Expression of HSP70 was induced in both the gastric ulcer margin and granulation tissue. Compared with wild-type mice, gastric ulcer healing was accelerated in transgenic mice expressing HSP70, and both cell proliferation at the gastric ulcer margin and angiogenesis in granulation tissue were enhanced. Oral administration of geranylgeranylacetone, an inducer of HSPs, to wild-type mice, either prior to or after ulcer formation, not only induced expression of HSP70 in the stomach but also accelerated gastric ulcer healing. On the other hand, oral administration of purified recombinant HSP70 prior to the ulcer formation, but not after formation, stimulated gastric ulcer healing. This study provides the first evidence that HSP70 accelerates gastric ulcer healing. The results also suggest that both the HSP70 produced prior to ulcer formation and released from damaged cells, and the HSP70 produced after ulcer formation are involved in this accelerated healing process.
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