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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(2), 445; doi:10.3390/ijms19020445

Galectin-3: The Impact on the Clinical Management of Patients with Thyroid Nodules and Future Perspectives

1
Pathology Research Laboratory, Saint Andrea University Hospital, via di Grottarossa 1035, 00189 Rome, Italy
2
Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Sapienza University, Policlinico Umberto I viale Regina Elena 324, 00161 Rome, Italy
3
Laboratory of Biomedical Research, Niccolò Cusano University Foundation, via Don Carlo Gnocchi 3, 00166 Rome, Italy
4
Nuklearmedizinische Klinik und Poliklinik, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Ismaninger Strasse 22, 81675 München, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 December 2017 / Revised: 17 January 2018 / Accepted: 29 January 2018 / Published: 2 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Galectins in Cancer and Translational Medicine)
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Abstract

Galectins (S-type lectins) are an evolutionarily-conserved family of lectin molecules, which can be expressed intracellularly and in the extracellular matrix, as well. Galectins bind β-galactose-containing glycoconjugates and are functionally active in converting glycan-related information into cell biological programs. Altered glycosylation notably occurring in cancer cells and expression of specific galectins provide, indeed, a fashionable mechanism of molecular interactions able to regulate several tumor relevant functions, among which are cell adhesion and migration, cell differentiation, gene transcription and RNA splicing, cell cycle and apoptosis. Furthermore, several galectin molecules also play a role in regulating the immune response. These functions are strongly dependent on the cell context, in which specific galectins and related glyco-ligands are expressed. Thyroid cancer likely represents the paradigmatic tumor model in which experimental studies on galectins’ glycobiology, in particular on galectin-3 expression and function, contributed greatly to the improvement of cancer diagnosis. The discovery of a restricted expression of galectin-3 in well-differentiated thyroid carcinomas (WDTC), compared to normal and benign thyroid conditions, contributed also to promoting preclinical studies aimed at exploring new strategies for imaging thyroid cancer in vivo based on galectin-3 immuno-targeting. Results derived from these recent experimental studies promise a further improvement of both thyroid cancer diagnosis and therapy in the near future. In this review, the biological role of galectin-3 expression in thyroid cancer, the validation and translation to a clinical setting of a galectin-3 test method for the preoperative characterization of thyroid nodules and a galectin-3-based immuno-positron emission tomography (immuno-PET) imaging of thyroid cancer in vivo are presented and discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: galectin-3; thyroid cancer; thyroid FNA-cytology, tumor imaging in vivo; immuno-PET galectin-3; thyroid cancer; thyroid FNA-cytology, tumor imaging in vivo; immuno-PET
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Bartolazzi, A.; Sciacchitano, S.; D’Alessandria, C. Galectin-3: The Impact on the Clinical Management of Patients with Thyroid Nodules and Future Perspectives. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19, 445.

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