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J Invest Dermatol. 2012 Feb;132(2):410-20. doi: 10.1038/jid.2011.335. Epub 2011 Dec 8.

Metabolic inhibition of galectin-1-binding carbohydrates accentuates antitumor immunity.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Galectin-1 (Gal-1) has been shown to play a major role in tumor immune escape by inducing apoptosis of effector leukocytes and correlating with tumor aggressiveness and disease progression. Thus, targeting the Gal-1/Gal-1 ligand axis represents a promising cancer therapeutic approach. Here, to test the Gal-1-mediated tumor immune evasion hypothesis and demonstrate the importance of Gal-1-binding N-acetyllactosamines in controlling the fate and function of antitumor immune cells, we treated melanoma- or lymphoma-bearing mice with peracetylated 4-fluoro-glucosamine (4-F-GlcNAc), a metabolic inhibitor of N-acetyllactosamine biosynthesis, and analyzed tumor growth and immune profiles. We found that 4-F-GlcNAc spared Gal-1-mediated apoptosis of T cells and natural killer (NK) cells by decreasing their expression of Gal-1-binding determinants. 4-F-GlcNAc enhanced tumor lymphocytic infiltration and promoted elevations in tumor-specific cytotoxic T cells and IFN-γ levels, while lowering IL-10 production. Collectively, our data suggest that metabolic lowering of Gal-1-binding N-acetyllactosamines may attenuate tumor growth by boosting antitumor immune cell levels, representing a promising approach for cancer immunotherapy.

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