Galectin-3 regulates T-cell functions

Immunol Rev. 2009 Jul;230(1):114-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2009.00798.x.


Galectin-3 is absent in resting CD4+ and CD8+ T cells but is inducible by various stimuli. These include viral transactivating factors, T-cell receptor (TCR) ligation, and calcium ionophores. In addition, galectin-3 is constitutively expressed in human regulatory T cells and CD4+ memory T cells. Galectin-3 exerts extracellular functions because of its lectin activity and recognition of cell surface and extracellular matrix glycans. These include cell activation, adhesion, induction of apoptosis, and formation of lattices with cell surface glycoprotein receptors. Formation of lattices can result in restriction of receptor mobility and cause attenuation of receptor functions. Consistent with the presence of galectin-3 in intracellular locations, several functions have been described for this protein inside T cells. These include inhibition of apoptosis, promotion of cell growth, and regulation of TCR signal transduction. Studies of cell surface glycosylation have led to convergence of glycobiology and galectin biology and provided new clues on how galectin-3 may participate in the regulation of cell surface receptor activities. The rapid expansion of the field of galectin research has positioned galectin-3 as a key regulator in T-cell functions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion / immunology
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Galectin 3 / immunology*
  • Galectin 3 / metabolism
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Galectin 3