Cytokines and growth factors in the developing intestine and during necrotizing enterocolitis.
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Cytokines and growth factors play diverse roles in the uninflamed fetal/neonatal intestinal mucosa and in the development of inflammatory bowel injury during necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). During gestational development and the early neonatal period, the fetal/premature intestine is exposed to high levels of many "inflammatory" cytokines and growth factors, first via swallowed amniotic fluid in utero and then, after birth, in colostrum and mother's milk. This article reviews the dual, seemingly counter-intuitive roles of cytokines, where these agents play a "trophic" role and promote maturation of the uninflamed mucosa, but can also cause inflammation and promote intestinal injury during NEC.Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.