Reduced expression of galectin-1 and galectin-9 by leucocytes in asthma patients


Correspondence: F. Sánchez Madrid, Immunology Department, Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Princesa, Hospital Universitario de la Princesa, Diego de Leon 62, 28006, Madrid, Spain.



Accumulating evidence shows that galectins play roles in the initiation and resolution phases of inflammatory responses by promoting anti- or proinflammatory effects. This study investigated the presence of three members of the galectin family (galectin-1, -3 and -9) in induced sputum samples of asthma patients, as well as their possible implication in the immunopathogenesis of human asthma. Levels of interleukin (IL)-5, IL-13, and galectins were determined in leucocytes isolated from induced sputum samples by reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR) immunofluorescence and flow cytometry. High levels of IL-5 and IL-13 mRNA were detected in sputum cells from asthma patients. In parallel, immunoregulatory proteins galectin-1 and galectin-9 showed a reduced expression on macrophages from sputum samples compared with cells from healthy donors. In-vitro immunoassays showed that galectin-1 and galectin-9, but not galectin-3, are able to induce the production of IL-10 by peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy donors. These findings indicate that macrophages from sputum samples of asthma patients express low levels of galectin-1 and galectin-9, favouring the exacerbated immune response observed in this disease.