Galectin-1 is a local but not systemic immunomodulatory factor in mesenchymal stromal cells

Roberta Fajka-Boja, Veronika S. Urbán, Gábor J. Szebeni, Ágnes Czibula, Andrea Blaskó, Éva Kriston-Pál, Ildikó Makra, Ákos Hornung, Eniko Szabó, Ferenc Uher, Nándor G. Than, Éva Monostori

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Background aims Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have powerful immunosuppressive activity. This function of MSCs is attributed to plethora of the expressed immunosuppressive factors, such as galectin-1 (Gal-1), a pleiotropic lectin with robust anti-inflammatory effect. Nevertheless, whether Gal-1 renders or contributes to the immunosuppressive effect of MSCs has not been clearly established. Therefore, this question was the focus of a complex study. Methods MSCs were isolated from bone marrows of wild-type and Gal-1 knockout mice and their in vitro anti-proliferative and apoptosis-inducing effects on activated T cells were examined. The in vivo immunosuppressive activity was tested in murine models of type I diabetes and delayed-type hypersensitivity. Results Both Gal-1-expressing and -deficient MSCs inhibited T-cell proliferation. Inhibition of T-cell proliferation by MSCs was mediated by nitric oxide but not PD-L1 or Gal-1. In contrast, MSC-derived Gal-1 triggered apoptosis in activated T cells that were directly coupled to MSCs, representing a low proportion of the T-cell population. Furthermore, absence of Gal-1 in MSCs did not affect their in vivo immunosuppressive effect. Conclusions These results serve as evidence that Gal-1 does not play a role in the systemic immunosuppressive effect of MSCs. However, a local contribution of Gal-1 to modulation of T-cell response by direct cell-to-cell interaction cannot be excluded. Notably, this study serves a good model to understand how the specificity of a pleiotropic protein depends on the type and localization of the producing effector cell and its target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-370
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016


  • apoptosis
  • delayed type hypersensitivity
  • galectin-1
  • immunosuppression
  • mesenchymal stromal cells
  • type I diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research
  • Transplantation

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    Fajka-Boja, R., Urbán, V. S., Szebeni, G. J., Czibula, Á., Blaskó, A., Kriston-Pál, É., Makra, I., Hornung, Á., Szabó, E., Uher, F., Than, N. G., & Monostori, É. (2016). Galectin-1 is a local but not systemic immunomodulatory factor in mesenchymal stromal cells. Cytotherapy, 18(3), 360-370.