Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) is a polypeptide mitogen which stimulates proliferation of epidermal and connective tissue cells. When applied to tympanic membrane perforations it has been reported to enhance healing and produce connective tissue hyperplasia. Previous work with animal models has shown that hyperplastic alterations of the tympanic membrane play an essential role in cholesteatoma development. This study was designed to further investigate the hyperplastic effects of bFGF and to determine if it might induce cholesteatoma formation during the healing process. Ten chinchillas received bilateral tympanic membrane perforations. In each animal, three doses of bFGF (400 nanograms per dose) were applied to the perforated tympanic membrane on one side; the opposite (control) ear received saline alone. The animals were terminated at either two or four weeks and studied histologically. Although the dosage and administration schedule used were consistent with previous studies utilizing other re-dent species, there was little evidence that bFGF affected tympanic membrane healing in chinchillas. In both control and bFGF-treated ears, dense connective tissue occupied the lamina propria of the tympanic membrane, providing an effective barrier against ingrowth of skin toward the middle ear. No cholesteatomas developed in any animals included in the study. The results of this work indicate that the risk of cholesteatoma formation following administration of bFGF is minimal when it is applied short-term to acute perforations.
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