Comparison of Galectin Expression Signatures in Rejected and Accepted Murine Corneal Allografts

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Purpose:Although members of the galectin family of carbohydrate-binding proteins are thought to play a role in the immune response and regulation of allograft survival, little is known about the galectin expression signature in failed corneal grafts. The aim of this study was to compare the galectin expression pattern in accepted and rejected murine corneal allografts.Methods:Using BALB/c mice as recipients and C57BL/6 mice as donors, a total of 57 transplants were successfully performed. One week after transplantation, the grafts were scored for opacity by slit-lamp microscopy. Opacity scores of 3+ or greater on postoperative week 4 were considered rejected. Grafted corneas were harvested on postoperative week 4, and their galectin expressions were analyzed by Western blot and immunofluorescence staining.Results:As determined by the Western blot analyses, galectins-1, 3, 7, 8 and 9 were expressed in normal corneas. Although in both accepted and rejected grafts, expression levels of the 5 lectins were upregulated compared with normal corneas, there were distinct differences in the expression levels of galectins-8 and 9 between accepted and rejected grafts, as both the Western blot and immunofluorescence staining revealed that galectin-8 is upregulated, whereas galectin-9 is downregulated in the rejected grafts compared with the accepted grafts.Conclusions:Our findings that corneal allograft rejection is associated with increased galectin-8 expression and reduced galectin-9 expression, support the hypothesis that galectin-8 may reduce graft survival, whereas galectin-9 may promote graft survival. As a potential therapeutic intervention, inhibition of galectin-8 and/or treatment with exogenous galectin-9 may enhance corneal allograft survival rates.

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