Cellular and subcellular distribution of galectin-3 in the epiphyseal cartilage and bone of fetal and neonatal mice

Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand). 1999 Dec;45(8):1191-202.


Galectin-3 is a 30 kDa beta-galactoside binding protein that belongs to the galectin family of animal lectins. By immunocytochemistry we show the presence of galectin-3 protein in the differentiated chondrocytes of the epiphyseal plate cartilage of long bones of both fetal and neonatal mice. The highest concentrations of galectin-3 are found in the cytoplasm of mature and early hypertrophic chondrocytes. Very little protein is detected in the late hypertrophic chondrocytes undergoing terminal maturation and cell death. Galectin-3 has also been found in osteoblasts and osteocytes of the woven bone of the metaphysis and the cortical bone of the diaphysis, as well as in osteoclasts and mononuclear cells within bone marrow cavities. Galectin-3 is never detected extracellularly, the protein seems restricted to the cytoplasm of chondrocytes and bone cells, although it is occasionally detected in the nuclei of dense non-hypertrophic chondrocytes in the zone of calcification and in young osteoblasts. The results indicate that galectin-3 is a marker of both chondrogenic and osteogenic cell lineages. They also suggest that galectin-3 could be involved in the process of endochondral bone formation, possibly as a regulator of chondrocyte survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Antigens, Differentiation / metabolism*
  • Bone Development*
  • Bone and Bones / cytology
  • Bone and Bones / embryology
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Fetus
  • Galectin 3
  • Growth Plate / cytology
  • Growth Plate / embryology
  • Growth Plate / growth & development
  • Growth Plate / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mice
  • Organ Specificity


  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Galectin 3