Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) remain a significant cause of morbidity worldwide. Biological therapies able to induce and/or upregulate antitumor immune responses could represent a complementary approach to conventional treatments for patients with HNSCC because, despite advances in surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, the overall survival rates for these patients have not changed over recent decades. Galectins are involved in the control of cell proliferation, cell death, and cell migration and in the modulation of various functions of the immune system. In this context, galectin-1 is known to protect HNSCCs from the immune system. The present review details the involvement of galectins in HNSCC biology and suggests a number of approaches to reduce the levels of expression of galectin-1 in HNSCCs, with the aim of improving the efficiency of HNSCC immunotherapy.
(c) 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2007.