Untangling Galectin-Driven Regulatory Circuits in Autoimmune Inflammation

Trends Mol Med. 2018 Apr;24(4):348-363. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2018.02.008. Epub 2018 Mar 16.


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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism*
  • Autoimmunity / drug effects
  • Biological Factors / pharmacology
  • Biological Factors / therapeutic use
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / metabolism
  • Galectins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / metabolism*


  • Biological Factors
  • Galectins