Galectin-9 protein is up-regulated in astrocytes by tumor necrosis factor and promotes encephalitogenic T-cell apoptosis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Demyelination and axonal damage in multiple sclerosis (MS) are thought to be a consequence of inflammatory processes that are perpetuated by activated glia and infiltrating leukocytes. Galectin-9 is a -galactoside binding lectin capable of modulating immune responses and appears to be up-regulated in MS. However, its role in the pathogenesis of MS has yet to be determined. Here, we report that proinflammatory cytokines induce galectin-9 (Gal-9) expression in primary astrocytes and the mechanism by which TNF up-regulates Gal-9. Astrocytes did not express Gal-9 under basal conditions nor did IL-6, IL-10, or IL-13 trigger Gal-9 expression. In contrast, IL-1, IFN-, and particularly TNF up-regulated Gal-9 in astrocytes. TNF-induced Gal-9 expression was dependent on TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1) as TNF failed to induce Gal-9 in TNFR1(-/-) astrocytes. Blockade of the JNK MAP kinase pathway with the JNK inhibitor SP600125 abrogated TNF-induced Gal-9, whereas p38 and MEK inhibitors had minimal effects. Furthermore, specific knockdown of c-Jun via siRNA in astrocytes before TNF treatment greatly suppressed Gal-9 transcription, suggesting that TNF induces astroglial Gal-9 through the TNF/TNFR1/JNK/cJun signaling pathway. Finally, utilizing astrocytes from Lgals9 mutant (Gal-9(-/-)) mice as well as a myelin basic protein-specific Tim-3(+) encephalitogenic T-cell clone (LCN-8), we found that conditioned medium from TNF-stimulated Gal-9(+/+) but not Gal-9(-/-) astrocytes increased the percentage of apoptotic encephalitogenic T-cells. Together, our results suggest that Gal-9 is induced in astrocytes by TNF via the JNK/c-Jun pathway and that astrocyte-derived Gal-9 may function as an immunoregulatory protein in response to ongoing neuroinflammation.

published proceedings

  • J Biol Chem

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Steelman, A. J., Smith, R., Welsh, C. J., & Li, J.

citation count

  • 46

complete list of authors

  • Steelman, Andrew J||Smith, Roger||Welsh, C Jane||Li, Jianrong

publication date

  • January 1, 2013 11:11 AM