The Number of Liver Galectin-3 Positive Cells Is Dually Correlated with NAFLD Severity in Children

Felipe Leite de Oliveira, Nadia Panera, Cristiano De Stefanis, Antonella Mosca, Valentina D'Oria, Annalisa Crudele, Rita De Vito, Valerio Nobili, Anna Alisi

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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a complex disease ranging from steatosis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Galectin-3 (Gal-3), which is a β-galactoside binding protein, has been associated with liver fibrosis, but its role in NAFLD remains elusive. We investigated the expression of Gal-3 in liver resident cells and its potential association with liver damage in 40 children with biopsy-proven NAFLD. We found that several liver cells expressed Gal-3. The number of total Gal-3 positive cells decreased with the severity of disease and the cells were correlated with the presence of steatosis and the diagnosis of NASH. CD68 macrophages expressed Gal-3 but the number CD68/Gal-3 positive cells was significantly reduced in patients diagnosed with steatosis and NASH. Triple CD68/CD206/Gal-3, which represented the subpopulation of M2 macrophages, were mainly present in patients without NASH, and clearly reduced in patients with steatosis and NASH. On the contrary, the number of α-smooth muscle actin (SMA)/Gal-3 positive cells increased with the severity of fibrosis in children with NAFLD. Our data demonstrated that the number of Gal-3 positive cells was associated with tissue damage in different ways, which suggests a dual role of this protein in the pathogenesis of pediatric NAFLD, even if the role of Gal-3 deserves further studies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 14 2019


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