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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e57915. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057915. Epub 2013 Feb 22.

Increased adiposity, dysregulated glucose metabolism and systemic inflammation in Galectin-3 KO mice.

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  • 1Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.


Obesity and type 2 diabetes are associated with increased production of Galectin-3 (Gal-3), a protein that modulates inflammation and clearance of glucose adducts. We used Lean and Diet-induced Obese (DIO) WT and Gal-3 KO mice to investigate the role of Gal-3 in modulation of adiposity, glucose metabolism and inflammation. Deficiency of Gal-3 lead to age-dependent development of excess adiposity and systemic inflammation, as indicated by elevated production of acute-phase proteins, number of circulating pro-inflammatory Ly6C(high) monocytes and development of neutrophilia, microcytic anemia and thrombocytosis in 20-week-old Lean and DIO male Gal-3 KO mice. This was associated with impaired fasting glucose, heightened response to a glucose tolerance test and reduced adipose tissue expression of adiponectin, Gal-12, ATGL and PPARγ, in the presence of maintained insulin sensitivity and hepatic expression of gluconeogenic enzymes in 20-week-old Gal-3 KO mice compared to their diet-matched WT controls. Expression of PGC-1α and FGF-21 in the liver of Lean Gal-3 KO mice was comparable to that observed in DIO animals. Impaired fasting glucose and altered responsiveness to a glucose load preceded development of excess adiposity and systemic inflammation, as demonstrated in 12-week-old Gal-3 KO mice. Finally, a role for the microflora in mediating the fasting hyperglycemia, but not the excessive response to a glucose load, of 12-week-old Gal-3 KO mice was demonstrated by administration of antibiotics. In conclusion, Gal-3 is an important modulator of glucose metabolism, adiposity and inflammation.

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