Galectin-3 expression is associated with tumor progression and pattern of sun exposure in melanoma

Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Nov 15;12(22):6709-15. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-06-0758.


Purpose: Most studies accept a multistep pathogenic process in melanoma that may include the phases of benign nevi and dysplastic nevi, melanoma, and metastatic melanoma. Dysregulation of cellular proliferation and apoptosis is probably involved in melanoma progression and response to therapy. We have studied the expression of galectin-3, a beta-galactoside-binding protein involved in apoptosis, angiogenesis, and cell proliferation, in a large series of melanocytic lesions, and correlated the expression with clinical and histologic features.

Experimental design: Tissue microarray blocks of 94 melanocytic lesions were semiquantitatively evaluated by immunohistochemistry for the cytoplasmic or nuclear expression of galectin-3.

Results: Primary and metastatic melanomas expressed galectin-3 at a significantly higher level than nevi in both cytoplasm and nuclei (P<0.0073). There was a significant association between anatomic source (as indirect indication of level of sun-exposure) and cytoplasmic and nuclear expression. Lymph node and visceral metastases had a higher level of expression than s.c. lesions (P<0.004). Interestingly, there was an almost significant finding of worse survival in those patients with lesions showing higher levels of cytoplasmic than nuclear galectin-3 expression (log-rank test, P=0.06).

Conclusions: Melanocytes accumulate galectin-3 with tumor progression, particularly in the nucleus. The strong association of cytoplasmic and nuclear expression in lesions of sun-exposed areas suggests an involvement of UV light in activation of galectin-3.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Galectin 3 / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology
  • Melanoma / etiology*
  • Melanoma / metabolism*
  • Melanoma / therapy
  • Nevus / metabolism
  • Nevus, Pigmented / metabolism
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • Tissue Array Analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Galectin 3
  • Nuclear Proteins