Galectin-3 expression correlates with apoptosis of tumor-associated lymphocytes in human melanoma biopsies

Am J Pathol. 2006 May;168(5):1666-75. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2006.050971.


The immune system recognizes diverse melanoma antigens. However, tumors can evade the immune response, therefore growing and progressing. It has been reported that galectin-3 and galectin-1 can induce apoptosis of activated lymphocytes. However, there is strong evidence indicating that the regulation of galectins function in the human tumor microenvironment is a complex process that is influenced by diverse biological circumstances. Here, we have investigated 33 biopsies (eight primary and 25 metastases) from 24 melanoma patients (15-72 years old) and describe the correlation between the expression of galectin-3 or galectin-1 and the level of apoptosis of tumor-associated lymphocytes using immunohistochemistry and an in situ nick translation assay. The range of galectin-3-positive tumor cells varied between 0% and 93% and that of galectin-1-positive tumor cells varied between 5% and 97%. In addition, 23 +/- 27% of tumor-associated lymphocytes were apoptotic. Although our results show a correlation between galectin-3 expression and apoptosis of tumor-associated lymphocytes, we could not find such correlation with galectin-1. Considering the complex process of cancer immunoediting, various interacting factors must be considered.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Apoptosis
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Biopsy*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Galectin 1 / metabolism*
  • Galectin 3 / metabolism*
  • Galectin 3 / physiology
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization / methods
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / metabolism*
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / pathology
  • Melanoma / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged


  • Biomarkers
  • Galectin 1
  • Galectin 3
  • LGALS1 protein, human