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Trends Immunol. 2002 Jun;23(6):313-20.

Galectins and their ligands: amplifiers, silencers or tuners of the inflammatory response?

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Division of Immunogenetics, Hospital de Clínicas José de San Martín, School of Medicine, University of Buenos Aires, Córdoba 2351, 3er Piso (1120), Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Recent evidence has implicated galectins and their ligands as master regulators of immune cell homeostasis. Whereas some members of this family, such as galectin-3, behave as amplifiers of the inflammatory cascade, others, such as galectin-1, trigger homeostatic signals to shut off T-cell effector functions. These carbohydrate-binding proteins, identified by shared consensus amino acid sequences and affinity for beta-galactoside-containing sugars, participate in the homeostasis of the inflammatory response, either by regulating cell survival and signaling, influencing cell growth and chemotaxis, interfering with cytokine secretion, mediating cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions or influencing tumor progression and metastasis. The current wealth of new information promises a future scenario in which individual members of the galectin family or their ligands will be used as powerful anti-inflammatory mediators and selective modulators of the immune response.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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