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Chikungunya fever (CHIKF) is an arboviral disease that has caused an epidemic burst of chronic inflammatory joint disease in Latin America in the last few years. Efforts are being spent in understanding the mechanisms by which it may cause such articular damage and in determining possible biomarkers of the disease. Galectins (GAL) are a family of animal lectins with an affinity for beta-galactosides. They have multiple functions including working as receptors in innate immunity and as a control for inflammatory responses in both innate and adaptive immunity. They regulate functions of immune cells, such as lymphocytes and macrophages, which have a main role in the chikungunya inflammatory process. Galectins are also involved in chronification of viral diseases, participate in the immunopathogenesis of chronic joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and have a role in inflammation in other arboviral diseases, such as dengue. Thus, we intended to determine the serum levels of galectin-1, -3, -4, -7, and -9 in patients with subacute and chronic articular manifestations of CHIKF and to evaluate their associations with clinical manifestations. We evaluated 44 patients with clinical manifestations of CHIKF and serological confirmation with IgM and/or IgG chikungunya virus (CHIKV) antibodies. Forty-nine age- and gender-matched healthy individuals served as controls. Anti-CHIKV IgM and IgG antibodies and galectins serum levels were measured by ELISA. We found higher levels of GAL-9 (patients median 2192 [1500-2631] pg/mL, controls median 46.88 [46.88-46.88] pg/mL, p < 0.0001) and lower levels of GAL-3 (patients median 235.5 [175.5-351.8] pg/mL, controls median 2236.0 [1256.0-2236.0] pg/mL, p < 0.0001) in patients than in controls. There was no statistical difference in levels of GAL-1, -4 and -7 between patients and control groups. There was no difference in GAL-9 serum levels between patients with subacute or chronic symptoms (median 2148 [1500-2722] pg/mL x 2212 [1844-2500] pg/mL, p = 0.3626). A significant association of GAL-9 with joint stiffness, both in its duration and intensity, was found. These results may reflect the participation of GAL-9 in the immunopathogenesis of the inflammatory process in chikungunya fever, as morning stiffness may reflect the systemic inflammatory process. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Nara Gualberto Cavalcanti, Kamila Melo Vilar, Angela Luzia Branco Pinto Duarte, Moacyr Jesus Barreto de Melo Rêgo, Michelly Cristiny Pereira, Ivan da Rocha Pitta, Claudia Diniz Lopes Marques, Maira Galdino da Rocha Pitta. Increased serum levels of galectin-9 in patients with chikungunya fever. Virus research. 2020 Sep;286:198062

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PMID: 32565125

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