Celiac.com 05/16/2018 - Galectins are a family of animal lectins marked by their affinity for N-acetyllactosamine-enriched glycoconjugates. Galectins control several immune cell processes and influence both innate and adaptive immune responses. A team of researchers recently set out to assess the role of galectins, particularly galectin-1 (Gal-1), in the treatment of celiac disease.
The researchers examined the role of galectins in intestinal inflammation, particularly in Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease patients, as well as in murine models resembling these inflammatory conditions.
Maintaining the fine balance between host immunity and tolerance promotes gut homeostasis, and helps to prevent inflammation. To gain insight into the role of Gal-1 in celiac patients, the team demonstrated an increase in Gal-1 expression following a gluten-free diet along with an increase in the frequency of Foxp3+ cells.
The resolution of the inflammatory response may promote the recovery process, leading to a reversal of gut damage and a regeneration of villi. Among other things, the team’s findings support the use of Gal-1 agonists to treat severe mucosal inflammation. In addition, Gal-1 may serve as a potential biomarker to follow the progression of celiac disease treatment.
Gut inflammation may be governed by a coordinated network of galectins and their glycosylated ligands, triggering either anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory responses. That network may influence the interplay between intestinal epithelial cells and the highly specialized gut immune system in physiologic and pathologic settings.
The team’s results demonstrate that the anti-inflammatory and tolerogenic response associated with gluten-free diet in celiac patients is matched by a substantial up-regulation of Gal-1. This suggests a major role of this lectin in favoring resolution of inflammation and restoration of mucosal homeostasis.
This data highlights the regulated expression of galectin-1 (Gal-1), a proto-type member of the galectin family, during intestinal inflammation in untreated and treated celiac patients. Further study of this area could lead to better understanding of the mechanisms behind celiac disease, and potentially to a treatment of the disease.
The researchers in this study are variously affiliated with the Laboratorio de Inmunopatología, Instituto de Biología y Medicina Experimental (IBYME), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Centro de Microscopía Electrónica, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Córdoba, Argentina; the Instituto de Investigaciones en Ciencias de la Salud (INICSA), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Córdoba, Argentina; the Laboratorio de Glicómica Funcional y Molecular, Instituto de Biología y Medicina Experimental (IBYME), Consejo de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Sección Intestino Delgado, Departamento de Medicina, Hospital de Gastroenterología Dr. C. Bonorino Udaondo, Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Unidad de Patología, Hospital de Gastroenterología, Bonorino Udaondo, Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Instituto de Investigaciones, Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and the Departamento de Química Biológica, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.