Galectin-1 expression is associated with tumour immunity and prognosis in gingival squamous cell carcinoma

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Galectin-1 (Gal-1) is a β-galactoside-binding protein that overexpresses in cancer and plays pivotal roles in tumour progression. Gal-1 regulates angiogenesis and invasiveness, and suppresses tumour immunity by inducing T cell apoptosis. Several studies have examined the relationship between Gal-1 and tumour immunosuppression in vivo, but they have not examined the clinicopathological relationship between Gal-1 expression and apoptotic T cell number in human tissue. In this study, we investigated the association between Gal-1 expression and apoptotic T cells of gingival squamous cell carcinoma (GSCC), as well as other clinicopathological factors.


Immunohistochemical investigation of 80 GSCC specimens using anti-Gal-1, anti-CD3, anti-CD4, anti-CD8, anti-CD34, antipodoplanin and anticleaved caspase-3 (CC-3) antibodies was performed. Relative expression levels of CD3 and CC-3, as well as CD8 and CC-3 were assessed simultaneously by double immunostaining. Gal-1 expression and T cell apoptosis were evaluated in 6 high-power fields (3 in the tumour and 3 in the stroma).


Gal-1 expression in GSCC was significantly correlated with T cell infiltration (p=0.036), and apoptosis of CD3+ and CD8+ T cells (p<0.001). Moreover, Gal-1 expression was significantly correlated with lymph node metastasis (p=0.021), histological differentiation (p<0.001) and overall survival rate (p=0.021).


These findings suggest that Gal-1 plays an important role in immune escape of GSCC cells, and Gal-1 expression level may be a useful clinicopathological prognostic marker for GSCC.

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