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Nat Med. 2007 Dec;13(12):1450-7. Epub 2007 Nov 18.

A pivotal role for galectin-1 in fetomaternal tolerance.

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Charité, University Medicine Berlin, Biomedical Research Building, Campus Virchow, Augustenburger Platz 1, Berlin 13353, Germany.

Erratum in

  • Nat Med. 2009 May;15(5):584.


A successful pregnancy requires synchronized adaptation of maternal immune-endocrine mechanisms to the fetus. Here we show that galectin-1 (Gal-1), an immunoregulatory glycan-binding protein, has a pivotal role in conferring fetomaternal tolerance. Consistently with a marked decrease in Gal-1 expression during failing pregnancies, Gal-1-deficient (Lgals1-/-) mice showed higher rates of fetal loss compared to wild-type mice in allogeneic matings, whereas fetal survival was unaffected in syngeneic matings. Treatment with recombinant Gal-1 prevented fetal loss and restored tolerance through multiple mechanisms, including the induction of tolerogenic dendritic cells, which in turn promoted the expansion of interleukin-10 (IL-10)-secreting regulatory T cells in vivo. Accordingly, Gal-1's protective effects were abrogated in mice depleted of regulatory T cells or deficient in IL-10. In addition, we provide evidence for synergy between Gal-1 and progesterone in the maintenance of pregnancy. Thus, Gal-1 is a pivotal regulator of fetomaternal tolerance that has potential therapeutic implications in threatened pregnancies.

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