Effects of galectin-1 clarified for the first time
Many older people suffer from the effects of osteoarthritis due to the wear and tear on their joints. Most often the knee and hip joint or the spine are affected. Certain proteins can increase in the course of osteoarthritis. For the first time, scientists have now discovered that these so-called galectin-1 proteins bind sugar and control the inflammation in the affected cartilage. For a long time, the exact impact of the proteins on existing arthosis was unknown.
During their investigation, the researchers from the University Clinic for Orthopedics at MedUni Vienna discovered what exactly the galectin-1 protein does for osteoarthritis. These sugar-binding proteins control inflammation in the cartilage affected by osteoarthritis. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Nature Reviews Rheumatology".
Galectin-1 triggers inflammation
Mostly older people often suffer from osteoarthritis, a wear and tear of the joints that exceeds the usual age. The knee and hip are often affected, but in some cases also the spine. It was previously unclear what effect the protein galectin-1 has on such a disease. The researchers have now found for the first time in an investigation that galectin-1 is a trigger of inflammation and is not released as a result of the inflammation itself, explains Professor Stefan Tögel from MedUni Vienna in a press release. The university clinic is one of the first research institutions around the world to deal with this topic systematically. The department of glycobiology deals with the biological relevance of sugar chains, which can affect a wide variety of cells in the human body, the expert adds.
Researchers wonder why galectin-1 is so highly expressed
Galectin-1 is a protein that binds sugar to humans. In arthrosis disease, this protein is overexpressed in the articular cartilage. The more degenerate the affected joint is, the more of the protein is released, the researchers say. Thus, galectin-1 boosts inflammation even further. For this, according to the scientists, it triggers the release of inflammatory factors via the NF-kB signaling pathway. These then cause our joint to suffer further damage and ultimately be destroyed, the researchers explain. However, the question still arises for doctors as to why galectin-1 is so highly expressed in the first place, Prof. Tögel continues.
Further studies are already underway
There is already ongoing research by glycobiologists at MedUni Vienna. These should clarify whether galectin-1 can be the target of preventive therapies in the future. The experts also hope that the protein could also be used as a possible biomarker for osteoarthritis. (as)