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Brain Res. 2013 Feb 16;1496:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2012.12.008. Epub 2012 Dec 14.

Galectin-3 enhances angiogenic and migratory potential of microglial cells via modulation of integrin linked kinase signaling.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Wisconsin, 600 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53792, USA.


Focal cerebral ischemia initiates self-repair mechanisms that include the production of neurotrophic factors and cytokines. Galectin-3 is an important angiogenic cytokine. We have previously demonstrated that expression of galectin 3 (Gal-3), a carbohydrate binding protein is significantly upregulated in activated microglia in the brains of rats subjected to focal ischemia. Further blocking of Gal-3 function with Gal-3 neutralizing antibody decreased the microvessel density in ischemic brain. We currently show that Gal-3 significantly increases the viability of microglia BV2 cells subjected to oxygen glucose deprivation (OGD) and re-oxygenation. Exogenous Gal-3 promoted the formation of pro-angiogenic structures in an in vitro human umbilical vein endothelial (HUVEC) and BV2 cell co-culture model. Gal-3 induced angiogenesis was associated with increased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor. The conditioned medium of BV2 cells exposed to OGD contained increased Gal-3 levels, and promoted the formation of pro-angiogenic structures in an in vitro HUVEC culture model. Gal-3 also augmented the in vitro migratory potential of BV2 microglia. Gal-3 mediated functions were associated with increased levels of integrin-linked kinase (ILK) signaling as demonstrated by the impaired angiogenesis and migration of BV2 cells following targeted silencing of ILK expression by siRNA. Furthermore, we show that ILK levels correlate with the levels of phos-AKT and ERK1/2 that are downstream effectors of ILK pathway. Taken together, our studies indicate that Gal-3 contributes to angiogenesis and microglia migration that may have implications in post stroke repair.

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