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J Pathol. 1996 Jul;179(3):309-16.

Immunocytochemical evidence for a modulation of galectin 3 (Mac-2), a carbohydrate binding protein, in pulmonary fibrosis.

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Institute of Pathology, Technical University of Dresden, Germany.


Galectin 3 is endogenous mammalian carbohydrate-binding protein with affinity for terminal beta-galactose residues, polylactosamine glycans, and ABH-blood group carbohydrate epitopes. To determine the distribution and regulation of galectin 3 during pulmonary injury, which is known to be accompanied by profound changes in the carbohydrate moieties of cell surface glycoproteins of alveolar cells, a rat model of irradiation-induced lung inflammation and repair was used. Immunocytochemistry showed that in normal rat lungs, galectin 3 was localized to alveolar macrophages, with weaker staining of bronchial epithelial cells. Shortly after irradiation-induced lung injury, when there is active proliferation of type II alveolar epithelial cells and re-epithelialization of alveolar basement membranes by type I cells, the total galectin concentration in the lung increased dramatically. This increase was due in part to an increased population of galectin 3-positive interstitial and alveolar macrophages. In addition, galectin 3 was expressed prominently at the surface of the newly formed type I alveolar epithelium and to lesser extent at the apical surface of type II cells. These findings suggest that the increased synthesis and secretion of galectin 3 during irradiation-induced lung injury, together with ligation of secreted lectin at the surface of alveolar epithelial cells, may play roles in pulmonary alveolar epithelial expansion and differentiation during injury and repair.

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