Galectin-2 induces apoptosis of lamina propria T lymphocytes and ameliorates acute and chronic experimental colitis in mice

Daniela Paclik, Uta Berndt, Claudia Guzy, Anja Dankof, Silvio Danese, Pamela Holzloehner, Stefan Rosewicz, Bertram Wiedenmann, Bianca M. Wittig, Axel U. Dignass, Andreas Sturm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Galectins have recently emerged as central regulators of the immune system. We have previously demonstrated that carbohydrate-dependent binding of galectin-2 induces apoptosis in activated T cells. Here, we investigate the potential therapeutic effect of galectin-2 in experimental colitis. Galectin-2 expression and its binding profile were determined by immunohistochemistry. Acute and chronic colitis was induced by dextran sodium sulfate administration and in a T-cell transfer colitis model. Apoptosis was assessed by TdT-mediated dUTP-biotin nick-end labeling, and cytokine secretion was determined by cytometric bead array. We show that galectin-2 was constitutively expressed mainly in the epithelial compartment of the mouse intestine and bind to lamina propria mononuclear cells. During colitis, galectin-2 expression was reduced, but could be restored to normal levels by immunosuppressive treatment. Galectin-2 treatment induced apoptosis of mucosal T cells and thus ameliorated acute and chronic dextran-sodium-sulfate-induced colitis and in a T-helper-cell 1-driven model of antigen-specific transfer colitis. Furthermore, the pro-inflammatory cytokine release was inhibited by galectin-2 treatment. In preliminary toxicity studies, galectin-2 was well tolerated. Our study provides evidence that galectin-2 induces apoptosis in vivo and ameliorates acute and chronic murine colitis. Furthermore, galectin-2 has no significant toxicity over a broad dose range, suggesting that it may serve as a new therapeutic agent in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1395-1406
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Molecular Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008


  • Apoptosis
  • Galectin-2
  • Galectins
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases
  • T lymphocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery
  • Genetics(clinical)


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