Biochim Biophys Acta 2002 Sep 19;1572(2-3):274
Rabinovich G, Rubinstein N, Toscano M.
Division de Immunogenetica, Hospital de Cli;nicas "Jose de San Martin", Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Cordoba 2351, 3er Piso, CP 1120, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Galectins are members of a highly conserved family of beta-galactoside-binding animal lectins.
Presently, more than 14 members have been identified and additional homologues are likely to be discovered.
Given their conservation throughout animal evolution, it is not surprising that they could play key roles in innate and adaptive immune responses, through sugar-dependent and -independent mechanisms.
Recently, it has become increasingly clear that galectins can differentially affect cellular activation and function.
These biological effects attracted attention of researchers in cell biology, biochemistry, glycobiology and immunology, not only in the mode of action of galectins, but also in their role as putative modulators of immune surveillance, apoptosis, cell adhesion and chemotaxis.
Here we will summarize the state-of-the-art of the effects of galectins in inflammatory and immunomodulatory processes.
In addition, we will discuss in-depth the current knowledge about the effects of this enigmatic family of animal lectins and their glycoligands in the progression, diagnosis and treatment of different pathological processes such as autoimmunity, allergy, infection and chronic inflammation.