The emerging role of galectins in high-fatality cancers

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2018 Apr;75(7):1215-1226. doi: 10.1007/s00018-017-2708-5. Epub 2017 Nov 8.


Although we witnessed considerable progress in the prevention and treatment of cancer during the past few decades, a number of cancers remain difficult to treat. The main reasons for this are a lack of effective biomarkers necessary for an early detection and inefficient treatments for cancer that are diagnosed at late stages of the disease. Because of their alarmin-like properties and their protumorigenic role during cancer progression, members of the galectin family are uniquely positioned to provide information that could be used for the exploration of possible avenues for the treatment of high fatality cancer (HFC). A rapid overview of studies that examined the expressions and functions of galectins in cancer cells reveals that they play a central role in at least three major features that characterize HFCs: (1) induction of systemic and local immunosuppression, (2) chemoresistance of cancer cells, and (3) increased invasive behavior. Defining the galectinome in HFCs will also lead to a better understanding of tumor heterogeneity while providing critical information that could improve the accuracy of biomarker panels for a more personalized treatment of HFCs. In this review, we discuss the relevance of the galectinome in HFC and its possible contribution to providing potential solutions.

Keywords: Biomarker; Galectinome; Galectins; High fatality cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Galectins / genetics*
  • Galectins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Multigene Family*
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Galectins
  • Protein Isoforms