The galectin family comprises β-galactoside–binding proteins widely expressed in many organisms. There are at least 16 family members, which can be classified into three groups based on their carbohydrate-recognition domains. Pleiotropic functions of different galectins in physiological and pathological processes through extracellular or intracellular actions have been revealed. In the skin, galectins are expressed in a variety of cells, including keratinocytes, melanocytes, fibroblasts, dendritic cells, lymphocytes, macrophages and endothelial cells. Expression of specific galectins is reported to affect cell status, such as activation or death, and regulate the interaction between different cell types or between cells and the extracellular matrix. In vitro cellular studies, in vivo animal studies and studies of human clinical material have revealed the pathophysiologic roles of galectins in the skin. The pathogenesis of diverse non-malignant skin disorders, such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, contact dermatitis and wound healing, as well as skin cancers, such as melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and cutaneous haematologic malignancy can be regulated by different galectins. Revelation of biological roles of galectins in skin may pave the way to future development of galectin-based therapeutic strategies for skin diseases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology