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Ophthalmic Res. 2014;51(2):96-103. doi: 10.1159/000355846. Epub 2013 Dec 18.

Galectin-3 enhances epithelial cell adhesion and wound healing in rat cornea.

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Senju Laboratory of Ocular Sciences, Senju Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., Kobe, Japan.



To investigate if galectin-3: (1) enhances adhesion of rat corneal epithelial cells onto a collagen IV substrate and (2) promotes wound healing in rat corneal explants.


Primary cultures of rat corneal epithelial cells were fixed and immunostained with galectin-3 antibody. To test cellular adherence onto plates coated with collagen type IV, isolated corneal epithelial cells from rats were cultured for 24 h with or without recombinant galectin-3. The attached cells were counted after fixing and staining with 0.1% crystal violet. Direct binding of galectin-3 to collagen IV was tested using a biotin label transfer method. To evaluate wound healing, explants with a 3.5-mm diameter wound in the central corneal epithelium from rats were incubated for 16 h with or without recombinant galectin-3. Changes in the size of the wound were measured with a digital microscope after staining with 5% fluorescein sodium.


In rat corneal epithelial cells, galectin-3 was stained throughout the cytoplasm, with increasing density adjacent to the plasma membrane. Exogenous galectin-3, but not epidermal growth factor (EGF), significantly promoted adhesion of corneal epithelial cells onto the collagen IV substrate. Galectin-3 directly bound to collagen IV in vitro. Exogenous galectin-3 significantly enhances wound healing in the corneal explants, which was partially inhibited by β-lactose.


Galectin-3 promotes adhesion of corneal epithelial cells onto collagen IV and enhances wound healing in corneal explants. Since galectin-3 functions in promoting wound healing by a different mechanism than that used by EGF, exogenous galectin-3 may be a candidate drug for enhancing epithelial cell wound healing in disorders of the cornea.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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