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Glycobiology. 2003 Feb;13(2):119-28. Epub 2002 Nov 1.

Opposite effects of galectin-1 on alternative metabolic pathways of L-arginine in resident, inflammatory, and activated macrophages.

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Immunology, Department of Clinical Biochemistry, School of Chemical Sciences, National University of Córdoba, Calle Haya De La Torre Esquina Medina Allende (C. 5000), Córdoba, Argentina.


Recent evidence has implicated galectins and their carbohydrate ligands as master regulators of the inflammatory response. Galectin-1, a member of this family, has shown specific anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory effects. To gain insight into the potential mechanisms involved in these effects, we investigated the effects of galectin-1 in L-arginine metabolism of peritoneal rat macrophages. Pretreatment of macrophages with galectin-1 resulted in a dose- and time-dependent inhibition of lipopolysaccharide-induced nitric oxide (NO) production, accompanied by a decrease in inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression (the classic pathway of L-arginine). On the other hand, galectin-1 favored the balance toward activation of L-arginase, the alternative metabolic pathway of L-arginine. Inhibition of NO production was not the result of increased macrophage apoptosis because addition of this beta-galactoside-binding protein to macrophages under the same experimental conditions did not affect the apoptotic threshold of these cells. To understand how endogenous galectin-1 is regulated in macrophages under inflammatory stress, we finally explored the ultrastructural distribution, expression, and secretion of galectin-1 in resident, inflammatory, and activated macrophages. This study provides an alternative cellular mechanism based on the modulation of L-arginine metabolism to understand the molecular basis of the anti-inflammatory properties displayed by this carbohydrate-binding protein.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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