The regulation of inflammation by galectin-3

Immunol Rev. 2009 Jul;230(1):160-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2009.00794.x.


Galectin-3 is a beta-galactoside-binding animal lectin of approximately 30 kDa and is evolutionarily highly conserved. Galectin-3 is promiscuous, its localization within the tissue micro-environment may be extracellular, cytoplasmic, or nuclear, and it has a concentration-dependent ability to be monomeric or form oligomers. These properties impart great flexibility on galectin-3 as a specific regulator of many biological systems including inflammation. For example, in acute tissue damage galectin-3 is a key component in the host defense against microbes such as Streptococcus pneumoniae. However, if tissue injury becomes repetitive galectin-3 also appears to be intimately involved in the transition to chronic inflammation, facilitating the walling off of tissue injury with fibrogenesis and organ scarring. Therefore galectin-3 can be viewed as a regulatory molecule acting at various stages along the continuum from acute inflammation to chronic inflammation and tissue fibrogenesis. In this review, we examine the role of galectin-3 in inflammation, and discuss the manipulation of galectin-3 expression as a potentially novel therapeutic strategy in the treatment of a broad range of inflammatory diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Bacteria / immunology
  • Fibroblasts / immunology*
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fibrosis / immunology*
  • Fibrosis / metabolism
  • Fungi / immunology
  • Galectin 3 / immunology
  • Galectin 3 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Macrophages / metabolism


  • Galectin 3