Dissecting the pathophysiologic role of endogenous lectins: glycan-binding proteins with cytokine-like activity?

Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2007 Feb-Apr;18(1-2):57-71. doi: 10.1016/j.cytogfr.2007.01.006. Epub 2007 Feb 22.


Several families of endogenous glycan-binding proteins have been implicated in a wide variety of immunological functions including first-line defence against pathogens, cell trafficking, and immune regulation. These include, among others, the C-type lectins (collectins, selectins, mannose receptor, and others), S-type lectins (galectins), I-type lectins (siglecs and others), P-type lectins (phosphomannosyl receptors), pentraxins, and tachylectins. This review will concentrate on the immunoregulatory roles of galectins (particularly galectin-1) and collectins (mannose-binding lectins and surfactant proteins) to illustrate the ability of endogenous glycan-binding proteins to act as cytokines, chemokines or growth factors, and thereby modulating innate and adaptive immune responses under physiological or pathological conditions. Understanding the pathophysiologic relevance of endogenous lectins in vivo will reveal novel targets for immunointervention during chronic infection, autoimmunity, transplantation and cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity
  • Chronic Disease
  • Collectins / immunology*
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Galectin 1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Infections / immunology
  • Infections / pathology
  • Infections / physiopathology
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Organ Transplantation
  • Polysaccharides / immunology*


  • Collectins
  • Cytokines
  • Galectin 1
  • Polysaccharides