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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2017, Article ID 1594074, 22 pages
Review Article

Lectins, Interconnecting Proteins with Biotechnological/Pharmacological and Therapeutic Applications

1Departamento de Bioquímica, Centro de Biociências, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Av. Prof. Moraes Rego 1235, Cidade Universitária, 50.670-901 Recife, PE, Brazil
2Departamento de Morfologia e Fisiologia Animal, Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Rua Dom Manuel de Medeiros, s/n, Dois Irmãos, 52171-900 Recife, PE, Brazil

Correspondence should be addressed to Luana Cassandra Breitenbach Barroso Coelho; moc.liamg@ohleocbbcl

Received 6 September 2016; Revised 21 January 2017; Accepted 6 February 2017; Published 7 March 2017

Academic Editor: Omer Kucuk

Copyright © 2017 Luana Cassandra Breitenbach Barroso Coelho et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Lectins are proteins extensively used in biomedical applications with property to recognize carbohydrates through carbohydrate-binding sites, which identify glycans attached to cell surfaces, glycoconjugates, or free sugars, detecting abnormal cells and biomarkers related to diseases. These lectin abilities promoted interesting results in experimental treatments of immunological diseases, wounds, and cancer. Lectins obtained from virus, microorganisms, algae, animals, and plants were reported as modulators and tool markers in vivo and in vitro; these molecules also play a role in the induction of mitosis and immune responses, contributing for resolution of infections and inflammations. Lectins revealed healing effect through induction of reepithelialization and cicatrization of wounds. Some lectins have been efficient agents against virus, fungi, bacteria, and helminths at low concentrations. Lectin-mediated bioadhesion has been an interesting characteristic for development of drug delivery systems. Lectin histochemistry and lectin-based biosensors are useful to detect transformed tissues and biomarkers related to disease occurrence; antitumor lectins reported are promising for cancer therapy. Here, we address lectins from distinct sources with some biological effect and biotechnological potential in the diagnosis and therapeutic of diseases, highlighting many advances in this growing field.