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Gastroenterology. 2003 May;124(5):1381-94.

Galectin-1 suppresses experimental colitis in mice.

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Dipartmento di Science Chirurgiche, Gastroenterologiche ed Epatologiche, Universită degli Studi di Perugia, Italy.



Uncontrolled T-cell activation plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases. Therefore, pharmacologic strategies directed to restore the normal responsiveness of the immune system by deleting inappropriately activated T cells could be efficacious in the treatment of these pathologic conditions. Galectin-1 is an endogenous lectin expressed in lymphoid organs that plays a role in the maintenance of central and peripheral tolerance. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the therapeutic effects of galectin-1 on T-helper cell type 1-mediated experimental colitis induced by intrarectal administration of 2,4,6-trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS) in mice.


Cells and tissues from mice with TNBS colitis receiving treatment with several doses of human recombinant galectin-1 (hrGAL-1) were analyzed for morphology, cytokine production, and apoptosis.


Prophylactic and therapeutic administration of rhGAL-1 resulted in a striking improvement in the clinical and histopathologic aspects of the disease. hrGAL-1 reduced the number of hapten-activated spleen T cells, decreased inflammatory cytokine production, and profoundly reduced the ability of lamina propria T cells to produce IFN gamma in vitro. Moreover, hrGAL-1 led to the appearance of apoptotic mononuclear cells in colon tissue when administered in vivo and induced selective apoptosis of TNBS-activated lamina propria T cells in vitro.


Collectively, these data show that hrGAL-1 exerts protective and immunomodulatory activity in TNBS-induced colitis and it might be effective in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.

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