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World J Gastroenterol. 2008 Sep 7;14(33):5133-7.

Roles of galectins in inflammatory bowel disease.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Control and Prevention of Infectious Disease, Faculty of Medicine, University of the Ryukyus, 207 Uehara, Nishihara, Okinawa 903-0215, Japan.


Protein/carbohydrate interactions through specific protein families termed lectin control essential biological processes. Galectins, a family of animal lectins defined by shared amino acid sequence with affinity for beta-galactosides, appear to be functionally polyvalent in a wide range of biological activity. Recent studies have identified immunoregulatory roles of galectins in intestinal inflammatory disorders. Galectin-1 and galectin-2 contribute to the suppression of intestinal inflammation by the induction of apoptosis of activated T cells, whereas galectin-4 is involved in the exacerbation of this inflammation by specifically stimulating intestinal CD4+ T cells to produce IL-6. We review how different members of the galectins provide inhibitory or stimulatory signals to control intestinal immune response under intestinal inflammation.

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