Galectin-3 is a marker of favorable prognosis and a biologically relevant molecule in neuroblastic tumors

V. Veschi, M. Petroni, A. Bartolazzi, P. Altavista, C. Dominici, C. Capalbo, R. Boldrini, A. Castellano, H.P. McDowell, B. Pizer, L. Frati, I. Screpanti, A. Gulino, G. Giannini

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Childhood neuroblastic tumors are characterized by heterogeneous clinical courses, ranging from benign ganglioneuroma (GN) to highly lethal neuroblastoma (NB). Although a refined prognostic evaluation and risk stratification of each tumor patient is becoming increasingly essential to personalize treatment options, currently only few biomolecular markers (essentially MYCN amplification, chromosome 11q status and DNA ploidy) are validated for this purpose in neuroblastic tumors. Here we report that Galectin-3 (Gal-3), a β-galactoside-binding lectin involved in multiple biological functions that has already acquired diagnostic relevance in specific clinical settings, is variably expressed in most differentiated and less aggressive neuroblastic tumors, such as GN and ganglioneuroblastoma, as well as in a subset of NB cases. Gal-3 expression is associated with the INPC histopathological categorization (P<0.001) and Shimada favorable phenotype (P=0.001), but not with other prognostically relevant features. Importantly, Gal-3 expression was associated with a better 5-year overall survival (P=0.003), and with improved cumulative survival in patient subsets at worse prognosis, such as older age at diagnosis, advanced stages or NB histopathological classification. In vitro, Gal-3 expression and nuclear accumulation accompanied retinoic acid-induced cell differentiation in NB cell lines. Forced Gal-3 overexpression increased phenotypic differentiation and substrate adherence, while inhibiting proliferation. Altogether, these findings suggest that Gal-3 is a biologically relevant player for neuroblastic tumors, whose determination by conventional immunohistochemistry might be used for outcome assessment and patient's risk stratification in the clinical setting. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1100
Pages (from-to)-
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research

Cite this

Veschi, V., Petroni, M., Bartolazzi, A., Altavista, P., Dominici, C., Capalbo, C., ... Giannini, G. (2014). Galectin-3 is a marker of favorable prognosis and a biologically relevant molecule in neuroblastic tumors. Cell Death and Disease, 5(3), -. [e1100].