Scientific reports

Galectin-3 Induces a Pro-degradative/inflammatory Gene Signature in Human Chondrocytes, Teaming Up with Galectin-1 in Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis.

PMID 27982117


Inflammatory chemo- and cytokines and matrix-degrading proteases underlie the progression of osteoarthritis (OA). Aiming to define upstream regulators for these disease markers, we pursued initial evidence for an upregulation of members of the adhesion/growth-regulatory galectin family. Immunohistochemical localization of galectin-3 (Gal-3) in sections of human cartilage with increasing levels of degeneration revealed a linear correlation reaching a chondrocyte positivity of 60%. Presence in situ was cytoplasmic, the lectin was secreted from OA chondrocytes in culture and binding of Gal-3 yielded lactose-inhibitable surface staining. Exposure of cells to the lectin led to enhanced gene expression and secretion of functional disease markers. Genome-wide transcriptomic analysis broadened this result to reveal a pro-degradative/inflammatory gene signature under the control of NF-κB. Fittingly, targeting this route of activation by inhibitors impaired the unfavourable response to Gal-3 binding, as also seen by shortening the lectin's collagen-like repeat region. Gal-3's activation profile overlaps with that of homodimeric galectin-1 (Gal-1) and also has distinctive (supplementing) features. Tested at subsaturating concentrations in a mixture, we found cooperation between the two galectins, apparently able to team up to promote OA pathogenesis. In summary, our results suggest that a network of endogenous lectins is relevant for initiating this process cascade.

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