Although progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms implicated in the pathogenesis of autoimmune inflammation, studies aimed at identifying the mediators of these pathways will be necessary to develop more selective therapies. Galectins, a family of glycan-binding proteins, play central roles in immune cell homeostasis. Whereas some members of this family trigger regulatory programs that promote resolution of inflammation, others contribute to perpetuate autoimmune processes. We discuss the roles of endogenous galectins and their specific glycosylated ligands in shaping autoimmune responses by fueling, extinguishing, or rewiring immune circuits. Understanding the relevance of galectin-glycan interactions in autoimmune inflammation could help to uncover novel pathways of tolerance breakdown, define molecular signatures for patient stratification and therapy responses, and open new avenues for immune intervention.
Keywords: autoimmunity; chronic inflammation; galectins; glycans; immunoregulation.
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