Galectin-1 exerts immunomodulatory and protective effects on concanavalin a–induced hepatitis in mice



Galectin-1, an endogenous lectin with immunomodulatory activities, induces selective, Fas-independent apoptosis of activated T cells. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect galectin-1 exerts on concanavalin A (Con A)–induced hepatitis, a T-cell–dependent model of liver injury. Con A administration resulted in liver injury, as shown by the increased transaminase plasma levels and liver DNA fragmentation, and caused spleen T-cell activation, which was associated with a strong increment in liver infiltrating T helper cells. Moreover, Con A injection leads to a marked increase in plasma tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and interferon gamma (IFN-γ) levels. Galectin-1 pretreatment dose-dependently prevented both liver injury and T-helper cell liver infiltration induced by Con A. In vivo and in vitro experiments indicated that the protective effects of galectin-1 depend on the selective elimination of Con A–activated T cells. In addition, galectin-1 almost completely prevented the Con A–induced increase in plasma TNF-α and IFN-γ, an effect that was, at least in part, independent on the elimination of activated T helper cells, because galectin-1 prevented lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced release of TNF-α and IFN-γ also from macrophages in vitro, without affecting their viability. The present study suggests that galectin-1 is potentially useful in the treatment of T-cell–mediated human liver disorders.