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Angiogenesis. 1999;3(4):317-25.

Galectin-1 expression in prostate tumor-associated capillary endothelial cells is increased by prostate carcinoma cells and modulates heterotypic cell-cell adhesion.

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Metastasis Research Laboratory, Pathology B-23, Sart Tilman, B-4000 Liège, Belgium.


Besides providing tumors with nutrients, newly formed capillaries constitute a potential escape route for tumor cells favoring metastatic dissemination, and constitute an access for the anti-tumoral host immune cells. Galectin-1, a soluble human lectin, is involved in numerous biological functions including cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions. In addition, galectin-1 is able to induce apoptosis of activated T-lymphocytes. In this study, we have examined galectin-1 expression in capillaries associated to the carcinoma cells or present in the remote non-tumoral stroma of 100 human prostate carcinoma samples by immunoperoxidase staining. Galectin-1 was expressed by endothelial cells from capillaries infiltrating the tumor tissue in 64% (64/100) of the cases. On the contrary, endothelial cells in the adjacent non-tumoral stroma expressed galectin-1 in very few cases (7/100). Increased frequency of galectin-1-positive capillaries in the tumor-associated compared to the tumor-free areas was observed in 63% of the cases. This striking contrast led us to set up an in vitro model to test whether tumor cells could induce galectin-1 expression by endothelial cells. Incubation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells with conditioned media from PC-3 or DU 145 prostate carcinoma cells led to a significant increase of galectin-1 protein expression (+32.97% and 37.91% P < 0.01 and P < 0.05, respectively). PC-3 conditioned medium also induced increased adhesion values of PC-3 cells to the endothelial cells (53.4 +/- 4.7 vs. 38.5 +/- 3.5 after 30 min; 66.6 +/- 7.8 vs. 46.2 +/- 6.4 after 60 min). An anti-galectin-1 antiserum abolished this modulation, and recombinant galectin-1 also induced increased adhesion values in a dose-dependent fashion. This effect was specific as no such modulations were observed using normal lymphocytes instead of PC-3 cells. Preferential galectin-1 expression in the endothelial cells close to the cancer cells could provide these latter with increased abilities to interact with the endothelial cells as well as a defense against the host immune system.


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