Galectins as immunoregulators during infectious processes: from microbial invasion to the resolution of the disease

Parasite Immunol. 2005 Apr;27(4):103-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3024.2005.00749.x.


Recent evidence has implicated galectins, a family of evolutionarily conserved carbohydrate-binding proteins, as regulators of immune cell homeostasis and host-pathogen interactions. Galectins operate at different levels of innate and adaptive immune responses, by modulating cell survival and cell activation or by influencing the Th1/Th2 cytokine balance. Furthermore, galectins may contribute to host-pathogen recognition and may serve as receptors for specific interactions of pathogens with their insect vectors. Here we will explore the influence of galectins in immunological processes relevant to microbial infection and will summarize exciting recent work related to the specific interactions between galectins and their glycoconjugate ligands as critical determinants of pathogen recognition. Understanding the role of galectin-sugar interactions during the course of microbial infections might contribute to defining novel targets for disease prevention and immune intervention.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Survival
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Galectins / chemistry
  • Galectins / immunology*
  • Galectins / metabolism
  • Glycoconjugates / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Insect Vectors / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Cytokines
  • Galectins
  • Glycoconjugates