The Pivotal Role of Galectin-3 in Viral Infection: A Multifaceted Player in Host-Pathogen Interactions

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Jun 1;24(11):9617. doi: 10.3390/ijms24119617.


Galectin-3 (Gal-3), a beta-galactoside-binding lectin, plays a pivotal role in various cellular processes, including immune responses, inflammation, and cancer progression. This comprehensive review aims to elucidate the multifaceted functions of Gal-3, starting with its crucial involvement in viral entry through facilitating viral attachment and catalyzing internalization. Furthermore, Gal-3 assumes significant roles in modulating immune responses, encompassing the activation and recruitment of immune cells, regulation of immune signaling pathways, and orchestration of cellular processes such as apoptosis and autophagy. The impact of Gal-3 extends to the viral life cycle, encompassing critical phases such as replication, assembly, and release. Notably, Gal-3 also contributes to viral pathogenesis, demonstrating involvement in tissue damage, inflammation, and viral persistence and latency elements. A detailed examination of specific viral diseases, including SARS-CoV-2, HIV, and influenza A, underscores the intricate role of Gal-3 in modulating immune responses and facilitating viral adherence and entry. Moreover, the potential of Gal-3 as a biomarker for disease severity, particularly in COVID-19, is considered. Gaining further insight into the mechanisms and roles of Gal-3 in these infections could pave the way for the development of innovative treatment and prevention options for a wide range of viral diseases.

Keywords: galectin-3; host–pathogen interactions; inflammation; therapeutic target; viral infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Galectin 3 / metabolism
  • Galectins / metabolism
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • SARS-CoV-2 / metabolism
  • Virus Diseases* / metabolism


  • Galectin 3
  • Galectins

Grants and funding

This study received financial support from the Ministry of Science, Technological Development, and Innovation of the Republic of Serbia under contract number 451-03-47/2023-01/200111, and additionally from the Junior Project of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of Kragujevac, Serbia (JP18/19).