The expression of galectin-3 in breast cancer and its association with chemoresistance: a systematic review of the literature

  • Ioannis Boutas
  • Anastasios PotirisEmail author
  • Walburgis Brenner
  • Antje Lebrecht
  • Annette Hasenburg
  • Sophia Kalantaridou
  • Marcus Schmidt



Galectin-3 is a Mr 31,000 protein that belongs to a family of carbohydrate-binding proteins. Galectin-3 has already been associated with protection against apoptosis through cell to cell or cell to matrix adhesion processes. It seems that galectin-3 plays an important role in tumor progression, cell growth, invasion and metastasis. Galectin-3 is the only member of the chimeric galectins that has an N-terminal glycine and proline domain and a C-terminal carbohydrate recognition domain that allows galectin-3 to accommodate larger structures such us polylactosaminoglycans and intervene to DNA damage repair process. In this systematic review, our primary goal is to identify the effect of galectin-3 expression in association with drug resistance and apoptosis inhibition in breast cancer.

Materials and methods

Scopus and PubMed databases were searched on 26 November 2018 using the following combination of keywords: (galectin-3 OR gal-3 OR LGALS3) AND (breast cancer) AND (chemoresistance OR (drug resistance) OR chemosensitivity). All the articles in English, regardless the time of publication, text availability and species included were initially accepted.


In the majority of the included studies, the expression of galectin-3 had a protective role in cell survival via different pathways such as the response to DNA damage and repair or the inhibition of apoptosis after treatment with a chemotherapeutic agent.


Galectin-3 expression in breast tumors might be an important factor in the selection of the most suitable treatment.


Galectin-3 Breast cancer Chemoresistance Chemosensitivity Drug-induced apoptosis 


Author contributions

IB: data collection and manuscript writing; AP: data collection and manuscript writing; WB: data management; AL: data management; AH: data review and manuscript editing; SK: data review and manuscript editing; and MS: project development and manuscript editing.


No funding has been given for this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Third Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Attikon University HospitalMedical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of AthensAthensGreece
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics and Women’s Health, University Medical CenterJohannes Gutenberg-UniversityMainzGermany

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