Galectin-3 is a 32- to 35-kDa member of the galectin family of b-galactoside-binding lectins, which is characterized by a carbohydrate recognition domain. Through its carbohydrate-binding function, it regulates cell growth, differentiation, and inflammation. It also plays a complex, context-dependent role in the kidneys. During development, it promotes nephrogenesis and is strongly expressed in the ureteric bud and its derivatives. An increase in the concentration of galectin-3 has been reported to be associated with fibrosis of the kidneys. Elevated levels of plasma galectin-3 are also associated with increased risks of rapid renal function decline, incident chronic kidney disease, and progressive renal impairment, and also with cardiovascular end points, infection, and all-cause mortality in patients with renal function impairment. This review discusses a general survey on galectin-3 expressions in nephrogenesis, kidney injury animal models, clinical renal diseases, renal transplantation and the potential role of galectin-3 for treatment in kidney disease.
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