Galectins: a key intersection between glycobiology and immunology

Braz J Med Biol Res. 1999 Apr;32(4):383-93. doi: 10.1590/s0100-879x1999000400002.


Galectins are a family of evolutionarily conserved animal lectins, widely distributed from lower invertebrates to mammals. They share sequence and structure similarities in the carbohydrate recognition domain and specificity for polylactosamine-enriched glycoconjugates. In the last few years significant experimental data have been accumulated concerning their participation in different biological processes requiring carbohydrate recognition such as cell adhesion, cell growth regulation, inflammation, immunomodulation, apoptosis and metastasis. In the present review we will discuss some exciting questions and advances in galectin research, highlighting the significance of these proteins in immunological processes and their implications in biomedical research, disease diagnosis and clinical intervention. Designing novel therapeutic strategies based on carbohydrate recognition will provide answers for the treatment of autoimmune disorders, inflammatory processes, allergic reactions and tumor spreading.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Galectins
  • Hemagglutinins* / chemistry
  • Hemagglutinins* / immunology
  • Hemagglutinins* / physiology


  • Galectins
  • Hemagglutinins