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Placenta. 1997 Jul-Aug;18(5-6):433-9.

Changes in the distribution pattern of galectin-1 and galectin-3 in human placenta correlates with the differentiation pathways of trophoblasts.

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Laboratory of Biology, University of Liège, Belgium.


Human placentation is a complex biological phenomenon that results from precisely regulated interactions between cells and the extracellular matrix. Galectin- 1 and galectin-3 belong to a newly defined family of galactose-binding lectins that can bind several glycoconjugates such as the basement membrane glycoprotein laminin, and are involved in many biological events including cell adhesion. In this study, the expression of these two galectins in first and third trimester normal human placenta was examined using single and double immunohistochemical staining and specific antibodies for galectins and cytokeratins. Galectin-3 was detected in all trophoblastic lineages including villous cytotrophoblasts and extravillous trophoblasts (trophoblastic cell columns, infiltrating trophoblasts, endovascular trophoblasts and placental bed giant cells). On the contrary, galectin-1 distribution was restricted to endometrium. A reduction of galectin-3 expression was observed from the villous trophoblasts to the trophoblastic cell columns. This pattern correlated with the switch from a proliferative to a migratory phenotype. Galectin-1 and galectin-3 were both detected in maternal decidual cells. Our data demonstrate a specific pattern of galectin-1 and galectin-3 expression in trophoblastic tissue, and suggest these lectins could contribute to cell-cell and cell matrix interactions of trophoblast during placentation.

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