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Transcriptional upregulation of galectin-3 in multiple sclerosis

Mangano, K;Petralia, MC;Bella, R;Pennisi, M;Muñoz-Valle, JF;Hernández-Bello, J;Nicoletti, F;Fagone, P;

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune, demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) affecting approximately 2.5 million people worldwide. The mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of MS are still only partially elucidated. Galectins are a family of ?-galactoside-binding lectins that are involved in the regulation of immune and inflammatory responses and have been shown to exert a role in the maintenance of central nervous system (CNS) homeostasis. There has been an increasing interest in the role of galectin-3 in neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. In the current study, we have evaluated the expression levels of galectin-3 in different cellular populations involved in the etiopathogenesis of MS. We have observed dramatically higher transcriptomic levels of galectin-3 in encephalitogenic CD4+ T cells in a preclinical model of MS, the MOG-induced experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE). Also, significantly higher levels of galectin-3 were found in microglial cells, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes isolated from the spinal cord of EAE mice, as well as in human MS-related white matter lesions. Modular co-expression analysis revealed that galectin-3 is co-expressed with genes involved in the regulation of microglia, cytokine production, and chemotaxis. This is the first comprehensive analysis of the expression of galectin-3 in MS, further strengthening its potential pathogenetic role in the etiopathogenesis of this CNS autoimmune disorder.