Plasma levels of Galectin-9 reflect disease severity in malaria infection

Bindongo P.P. Dembele, Haorile Chagan-Yasutan, Toshiro Niki, Yugo Ashino, Noppadon Tangpukdee, Egawa Shinichi, Srivicha Krudsood, Shigeyuki Kano, Toshio Hattori

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Galectin-9 (Gal-9) is a β-galactoside-binding lectin that interacts with sugar moieties on glycoproteins and glycolipids of cells and pathogens. Gal-9 is known as an immune modulator that induces cell death via interaction with T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain-3 (Tim3), a co-inhibitory receptor, and it inhibits production of several pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF, IL-6 and IL-1α) and enhances production of IL-10. To understand the immune pathology of malaria, the Gal-9 in plasma was measured. Methods: Plasma samples and clinical parameters were obtained from 50 acute malaria cases (nine severe and 41 uncomplicated cases) from Thailand at three time points: day 0, day 7 and day 28. Gal-9 levels were determined by ELISA. A total of 38 species of cytokines and chemokines were measured using a BioPlex assay. Results: Gal-9 levels were higher at day 0 compared to day 7 and day 28 (P < 0.0001). Gal-9 levels were also higher in severe malaria (SM) cases compared to uncomplicated (UM) cases at day 0 and day 7 (923 vs 617 pg/mL; P = 0.03, and 659 vs 348 pg/mL; P = 0.02 respectively). Median Gal-9 levels were higher in patients with blood urea nitrogen to creatinine ratio (BUN/creatinine) ≥20 (mg/dL) than in patients with BUN/creatinine <20 (mg/dL) at day 0 (817.3 vs 576.2 pg/mL, P = 0.007). Gal-9 was inversely significantly correlated with chloride levels in both SM and UM cases (r s = -0.73 and r s = -0.46, respectively). In both UM and SM cases, Gal-9 was significantly associated with pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines such as TNF, IL-6, IFN-α2, IFN-γ, IL-1Ra and IL-10. These correlations were observed at day 0 but disappeared at day 28. Conclusions: Gal-9 is released during acute malaria, and reflects its severity. This elevation of Gal-9 in acute malaria infection raises the possibility of its role in termination of the immune response by binding to Tim-3, a receptor of Gal-9.

Original languageEnglish
Article number403
JournalMalaria Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Aug 11


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