Published online Sep 7, 2008. doi: 10.3748/wjg.14.5133
Revised: July 20, 2008
Accepted: July 27, 2008
Published online: September 7, 2008
Protein/carbohydrate interactions through specific protein families termed lectin control essential biological processes. Galectins, a family of animal lectins defined by shared amino acid sequence with affinity for β-galactosides, appear to be functionally polyvalent in a wide range of biological activity. Recent studies have identified immunoregulatory roles of galectins in intestinal inflammatory disorders. Galectin-1 and galectin -2 contribute to the suppression of intestinal inflammation by the induction of apoptosis of activated T cells, whereas galectin-4 is involved in the exacerbation of this inflammation by specifically stimulating intestinal CD4+ T cells to produce IL-6. We review how different members of the galectins provide inhibitory or stimulatory signals to control intestinal immune response under intestinal inflammation.