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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2017

Galectin 3 expression in primary oral squamous cell carcinomas

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2017
Manuel Weber, Maike Büttner-Herold, Luitpold Distel, Jutta Ries, Patrick Moebius, Raimund Preidl, Carol I. Geppert, Friedrich W. Neukam, Falk Wehrhan



Immunologic factors can promote the progression of oral squamous cell carcinomas (oscc). The phylogenetic highly conserved protein Galectin 3 (Gal3) contributes to cell differentiation and immune homeostasis. There is evidence that Gal3 is involved in the progression of oscc and influences the regulation of macrophage polarization. Macrophage polarization (M1 vs. M2) in solid malignancies like oscc contributes to tumor immune-escape. However, the relationship between macrophage polarization and Gal3 expression in oscc is not yet understood. The current study analyzes the association between histomorphologic parameters (T-, N-, L- Pn-status, grading) and Gal3 expression resp. the ratio between Gal3 expressing cells and CD68 positive macrophages in oscc specimens.


Preoperative diagnostic biopsies (n = 26) and tumor resection specimens (n = 34) of T1/T2 oscc patients were immunohistochemically analyzed for Gal3 and CD68 expression. The number of Gal3 expressing cells and the ratio between CD68 and Gal3 expressing cells was quantitatively assessed.


In biopsy and tumor resection specimens, the number of Gal3 positive cells as well as the Gal3/CD68 ratio were significantly (p < 0.05) higher in T2 oscc compared to T1 cases. In biopsy specimens, a significantly (p < 0.05) increased Gal3 expression and Gal3/CD68 ratio was associated with the progression marker lymph vessel infiltration (L1). Tumor resection specimens of cases with lymph node metastases (N+) had a significantly (p < 0.05) increased Gal3 expression. Additionally, a high Gal3/CD68 ratio correlated significantly (p < 0.05) with higher grading (G3) in tumor resection specimens.


High Gal3 expression in oscc is associated with tumor size (T-status) and parameters of malignancy (N-, L-status, grading). Gal3 might contribute to M2 macrophage mediated local immune tolerance. Gal3 expression shows association with prognosis in oscc and represent a potential therapeutic target.
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