Background: We recently identified galectin-3 (gal-3) as a new and strong fibroblast activator produced by colonic epithelial cells. Very little is known about the influence of gal-3 in inflammatory bowel disease. We, therefore, investigated the impact of gal-3 on dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis in a mouse model. Methods: Colonic lamina propria fibroblasts of healthy controls were used for co-incubation studies of gal-3 with gal-1, TGF-β1, IFNγ, IL-4 and IL-10. Acute and chronic DSS colitis was induced by 3% DSS in drinking water in female Balb/c mice weighing 20-22 g. Recombinant gal-3 was expressed by the pET vector system and used for a 5-day treatment in different concentrations intraperitoneally. The distal third of the colon was used for histologic analysis. Colonic cytokine expression was determined by quantitative RT-PCR. Results: In vitro, gal-3 induced IL-8 secretion was significantly reduced by co-incubation with IL-10 (5 ng/ml) and IL-4 (10 ng/ml). Acute DSS-induced colitis was ameliorated by gal-3 treatment as indicated by increased colonic length and reduced weight loss compared to that of controls. In acute and chronic colitis, gal-3 treatment resulted in a significant suppression of colonic IL-6. Conclusion: Gal-3 significantly reduces inflammation in acute and chronic DSS colitis in mice indicating a potential role in intestinal inflammation.

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