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Lack of galectin-3 involvement in murine intestinal nematode and schistosome infection


: Helena Helmby, Immunology Unit, Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK (e-mail:


Many parasitic helminths produce large quantities of glycosylated proteins, some if which are believed to be involved in the skewing towards the dominant Th2 response observed during helminth infection. Galectin-3 is a member of a family of lectin-binding proteins produced by many different types of immune cells, including macrophages. Galectin-3 recognizes the GalNAcβ1-4GlcNAc (LDN) epitope present on many helminth antigens, including those of the schistosome eggs. Here we show that galectin-3 is not involved in the development of the Th2 response nor in schistosome granuloma formation. Galectin-3-deficient mice were able to expel the gastrointestinal nematode Trichuris muris at the same speed as wild-type mice. Expulsion of T. muris is known to be dependent on a Th2 immune response and galectin-3-deficient mice showed no defect in their ability to produce Th2 cytokines or in their antibody responses, compared to wild-type mice. Furthermore, galectin-3-deficient mice were also able to mount a Th2 response to Schistosoma mansoni infection and they exhibited normal hepatic granuloma formation. The data presented here demonstrate that galectin-3 is not a critical component in the development of Th2 responses during helminth infection in vivo, nor is it essential for schistosome egg granuloma formation.