Galectins are a family of proteins that bind β-galactose residues through a highly conserved carbohydrate recognition domain. They regulate several important biological functions, including cell proliferation, adhesion, migration, and invasion, and play critical roles during embryonic development and cell differentiation. In adults, different galectin members are expressed depending on the tissue type and can be altered during pathological processes. Numerous reports have shown the involvement of galectins in diseases, mostly inflammation and cancer. Here, we review the state-of-the-art of the role that different galectin family members play in pancreatic cancer. This tumor is predicted to become the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the next decade as there is still no effective treatment nor accurate diagnosis for it. We also discuss the possible translation of recent results about galectin expression and functions in pancreatic cancer into clinical interventions (i.e., diagnosis, prediction of prognosis and/or therapy) for this fatal disease.
Keywords: galectins; immunosuppression; pancreatic cancer; stroma.