Immunohistochemical galectin-3 expression in non-melanoma skin cancers

Pathol Res Pract. 2009;205(2):97-103. doi: 10.1016/j.prp.2008.09.001. Epub 2008 Oct 31.


Galectin-3 is a ss-galactoside-binding lectin. It participates in a variety of normal and pathologic processes, including cancer progression. In this study, we evaluated the pattern of expression of galectin-3 in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and its correlation with the grade of differentiation in SCC and tumor size. Galectin-3 expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 31 SCCs, 30 BCCs, and 29 non-tumoral skin samples. Galectin-3 expression was higher in normal epidermis than in non-melanoma skin cancers, except for cytoplasmic immunoreactivity in SCC. Cytoplasmic galectin-3 immunoreactivity was significantly higher than nuclear immunoreactivity in non-melanoma skin cancers. Cytoplasmic galectin-3 immunoreactivity was significantly higher in SCC than in both circumscribed and infiltrative BCCs, but no difference was detected between these two types of BCC. Cytoplasmic galectin-3 immunoreactivity predominated within SCCs (p=0.000), and a positive correlation was detected between tumor size and cytoplasmic immunoreactivity (r=0.385, p=0.043). There was no correlation between galectin-3 staining and tumor differentiation and lymph node metastasis. Decreased nuclear galectin-3 expression and cytoplasmic immunoreactivity in tumors are important factors in the progression from the normal to the cancerous state in non-melanoma skin cancers. We speculate that cytoplasmic galectin-3 expression may be one of the factors that contribute to tumor aggressiveness in SCC.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Galectin 3 / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology


  • Galectin 3