Galectin fingerprinting in tumor diagnosis. Differential expression of galectin-3 and galectin-3 binding sites, but not galectin-1, in benign vs malignant uterine smooth muscle tumors

Am J Clin Pathol. 1999 May;111(5):623-31. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/111.5.623.


Cell-matrix interactions are governed by a distinct set of proteins, with 2 nonintegrin laminin-binding proteins, galectin-1 and galectin-3, providing 1 aspect. The expression patterns of laminin and the 2 galectins and galectin binding sites were quantitatively determined by means of computer-assisted microscopy with the aim of differentiating between 16 leiomyomas and 10 leiomyosarcomas of the uterus. Three quantitative variables were computed for each of the 5 histochemical markers: labeling index, which describes the percentage of tissue area specifically stained by a given marker; mean optical density which reflects the concentration of the marker; and concentrational heterogeneity, which characterizes the degree of heterogeneity of the marker distribution in the tumor tissue areas. The results reveal evident differences in the galectin-3-related parameters in the 2 tumors groups. Whereas the concentration of galectin-3 binding sites was significantly (P = .01) weaker in the leiomyosarcomas than in the leiomyomas, the percentages of tumor tissue expressing galectin-3 (P = .02) and its binding sites (P = .002) were significantly higher in the leiomyosarcomas than in the leiomyomas. Although significantly (P = .02) higher, the concentration of laminin was more heterogeneously distributed (P = .01) in the leiomyosarcomas than in the leiomyomas. In contrast, the levels of expression of galectin-1 and its accessible binding sites remained similar for both the leiomyomas and the leiomyosarcomas. Finally we document how the levels of expression of galectin-3 and its binding sites can be of assistance in reliably differentiating leiomyomas from leiomyosarcomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigens, Differentiation / metabolism*
  • Binding Sites / physiology
  • Biomarkers
  • Female
  • Galectin 1
  • Galectin 3
  • Hemagglutinins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Laminin / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Muscle, Smooth / metabolism
  • Uterine Neoplasms / diagnosis*


  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Biomarkers
  • Galectin 1
  • Galectin 3
  • Hemagglutinins
  • Laminin