Galectins in Gastric and Colorectal Cancers: Implications for Tumor Progression and Metastasis

  • Reuben Lotan
  • Eiichi Tahara


Galectins 1 and 3, galactoside-binding proteins, have been implicated in cellular interactions, growth, apoptosis, differentiation, transformation, and metastasis. Galectins’ expression was detected in normal mucosa and in primary and metastatic colorectal and gastric carcinomas by Western blotting of extracts from cultured tumor cells and surgical specimens and by immunohistochemistry using histological sections of fixed tissues. Galectin-1 was detected in only 7 of 21 cultured human colon carcinoma cell lines, whereas galectin-3 was found in 20 of 21. In gastric cancer cell lines, galectin-1 was detected in most (six of eight) and galectin-3 in all of eight cell lines. Most of the cell lines expressed carcinoembryonic antigen and lysosome-associated membrane proteins, which can serve as endogenous ligands for galectins. Immunoblotting of extracts of malignant colorectal tissues from 48 patients revealed that the galectin3 level was higher in tumor specimens from patients classified as Dukes’ stage D than in those in other stages. Immunoblotting of extracts of normal and malignant gastric tissues from 26 patients revealed that the galectin-3 level was higher in tumor tissue than in normal tissue in 9 of 26 cases but lower than that in normal tissue in only 3 of 26 cases. An immunohistochemical analysis revealed that galectin3 expression increased in gastric cancers relative to normal mucosa and in some metastatic lesions relative to primary tumors. These results implicate galectin-3 in the progression of certain types of colorectal and gastric cancers to the metastatic phenotype.


Gastric Cancer Gastric Carcinoma KM12 Cell Endogenous Lectin Helix Pomatia Agglutinin 
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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reuben Lotan
    • 1
  • Eiichi Tahara
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Tumor BiologyThe University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  2. 2.First Department of PathologyHiroshima University School of MedicineMinami-ku, Hiroshima 734Japan

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