Galectin-3 Regulates the Innate Immune Response of Human Monocytes

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Abstract

Galectin-3 is a β-galactoside–binding lectin widely expressed on epithelial and hematopoietic cells, and its expression is frequently associated with a poor prognosis in cancer. Because it has not been well-studied in human infectious disease, we examined galectin-3 expression in mycobacterial infection by studying leprosy, an intracellular infection caused by Mycobacterium leprae. Galectin-3 was highly expressed on macrophages in lesions of patients with the clinically progressive lepromatous form of leprosy; in contrast, galectin-3 was almost undetectable in self-limited tuberculoid lesions. We investigated the potential function of galectin-3 in cell-mediated immunity using peripheral blood monocytes. Galectin-3 enhanced monocyte interleukin 10 production to a TLR2/1 ligand, whereas interleukin 12p40 secretion was unaffected. Furthermore, galectin-3 diminished monocyte to dendritic cell differentiation and T-cell antigen presentation. These data demonstrate an association of galectin-3 with unfavorable host response in leprosy and a potential mechanism for impaired host defense in humans.

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