Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Galectin-3 (Gal-3) is an evolutionarily conserved and multifunctional protein that drives inflammation in disease. Gal-3's role in the central nervous system has been less studied than in the immune system. However, recent studies show it exacerbates Alzheimer's disease and is upregulated in a large variety of brain injuries, while loss of Gal-3 function can diminish symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. Several novel molecular pathways for Gal-3 were recently uncovered. It is a natural ligand for TREM2 (triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells), TLR4 (Toll-like receptor 4), and IR (insulin receptor). Gal-3 regulates a number of pathways including stimulation of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling and modulating Wnt signalling in a context-dependent manner. Gal-3 typically acts in pathology but is now known to affect subventricular zone (SVZ) neurogenesis and gliogenesis in the healthy brain. Despite its myriad interactors, Gal-3 has surprisingly specific and important functions in regulating SVZ neurogenesis in disease. Gal-1, a similar lectin often co-expressed with Gal-3, also has profound effects on brain pathology and adult neurogenesis. Remarkably, Gal-3's carbohydrate recognition domain bears structural similarity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein necessary for cell entry. Gal-3 can be targeted pharmacologically and is a valid target for several diseases involving brain inflammation. The wealth of molecular pathways now known further suggest its modulation could be therapeutically useful.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





Galectin-3, galectin, inflammation, neurogenesis, stem cells, subventricular zone, Animals, Brain, COVID-19, Cell Movement, Galectin 3, Humans, Inflammation, Lateral Ventricles, Nervous System Diseases, Neural Stem Cells, Neurogenesis, Signal Transduction