Galectin-3 regulation of non small cell lung cancer growth
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Galectin-3 is a β-galactoside binding lectin expressed in tumour cells and macrophages and has been associated with increased malignancy in a variety of cancers. Previous work has shown that galectin-3 is an important regulator of macrophage function, promoting an alternative (M2) phenotype which potentiates chronic inflammation and fibrosis. Tumour associated macrophages (TAMs) adopt an M2 phenotype and are thought to promote tumour growth by down regulating T cell effector function and promoting angiogenesis. This project examines the hypothesis that host galectin-3 promotes lung cancer growth and spread. In order to test this hypothesis, Lewis Lung Carcinoma tumour growth and metastasis was investigated in strain matched mice either expressing or deficient in galectin-3. The Lewis Lung Carcinoma cell line (LLC1) is a spontaneous lung carcinoma line, derived from C57BL/6 mice, which readily forms tumours when transplanted. Furthermore, LLC1 cells were stably transfected with a Luciferase expressing vector in order to assist detection of tumour growth and metastasis in vivo. An orthotopic model of LLC1 growth suggested that galectin-3-/- animals do not support lung carcinoma growth and spread. This finding was confirmed by a subcutaneous model of cancer growth, where it was found that wild type animals display a higher proportion of macrophages expressing a prototypic M2 marker around tumour sites compared to galectin-3-/- animals. M2-promoting cytokine transcripts were also reduced in galectin-3-/- mice. Additionally, tumours of wild type mice were more invasive and presented more mature blood vessels compared to galectin-3-/- mice. To specifically address the role of recruited cells on tumour growth, metastasis and the inflammation profile around tumour sites, in relation to galectin-3 expression, bone marrow cells (BMCs) were transplanted from wild type to galectin-3-/- mice and vice versa. It was shown that galectin-3 positive BMCs restore the wild type phenotype of tumour growth in galectin-3-/- mice, while galectin-3 deficient BMCs impair tumour growth in wild type animals. Furthermore, macrophage ablation experiments demonstrated incapacity for tumour establishment in the absence of macrophages. A series of experiments investigating reported inhibition of galectin-3 by modified citrus pectin (MCP) via competitive inhibition did not provide conclusive results. MCP had no effect in vivo, but was able to inhibit LLC1 cell growth in vitro. Most importantly though, results were inconclusive as to whether galectin-3 binds MCP. Some ligand displacement was seen, but direct binding of the molecules could not be shown. In general, the results obtained demonstrate a strong pro-tumoural effect of galectin-3 on growth, tissue invasion and metastasis of LLC1 tumours via an increased proportion of Ym1-expressing macrophages around tumour sites. It was shown that macrophages are key cells for tumour initiation and that BMC phenotype in relation to galectin-3 expression determines the phenotype of tumour development in subcutaneous and orthotopic LLC1 models. Therefore, galectin-3 has a strong regulatory effect on tumour phenotype and could present a key target in the management of lung carcinomas.