Galectin-3 enhances epithelial cell adhesion and wound healing in rat cornea

C. Yabuta, F. Yano, A. Fujii, T. R. Shearer, M. Azuma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background/Aims: To investigate if galectin-3: (1) enhances adhesion of rat corneal epithelial cells onto a collagen IV substrate and (2) promotes wound healing in rat corneal explants. Methods: Primary cultures of rat corneal epithelial cells were fixed and immunostained with galectin-3 antibody. To test cellular adherence onto plates coated with collagen type IV, isolated corneal epithelial cells from rats were cultured for 24 h with or without recombinant galectin-3. The attached cells were counted after fixing and staining with 0.1% crystal violet. Direct binding of galectin-3 to collagen IV was tested using a biotin label transfer method. To evaluate wound healing, explants with a 3.5-mm diameter wound in the central corneal epithelium from rats were incubated for 16 h with or without recombinant galectin-3. Changes in the size of the wound were measured with a digital microscope after staining with 5% fluorescein sodium. Results: In rat corneal epithelial cells, galectin-3 was stained throughout the cytoplasm, with increasing density adjacent to the plasma membrane. Exogenous galectin-3, but not epidermal growth factor (EGF), significantly promoted adhesion of corneal epithelial cells onto the collagen IV substrate. Galectin-3 directly bound to collagen IV in vitro. Exogenous galectin-3 significantly enhances wound healing in the corneal explants, which was partially inhibited by β-lactose. Conclusion: Galectin-3 promotes adhesion of corneal epithelial cells onto collagen IV and enhances wound healing in corneal explants. Since galectin-3 functions in promoting wound healing by a different mechanism than that used by EGF, exogenous galectin-3 may be a candidate drug for enhancing epithelial cell wound healing in disorders of the cornea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-103
Number of pages8
JournalOphthalmic Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Adhesion
  • Collagen IV
  • Corneal epithelial cells
  • Galectin-3
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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