Lectins are ubiquitous proteins that exhibit selective and reversible carbohydrate-binding activities, and have become increasingly known as cell recognition mediators in a wide range of biological systems. Besides being useful tools in the study of underlying mechanisms involved in inflammation, lectins have also emerged as suitable molecules for pharmaceutical applications. Since the discovery that mammalian lectins exert crucial roles in neutrophil adhesion, mobilization, and activation, the experimental use of lectins from exogenous sources, such as plants, as modulators of leukocyte functions has been considered. Indeed, specific mammalian cell responses triggered by different plant lectins have contributed to delineation of the signaling mechanisms underlying cell adhesion, intracellular activation, and modulation of cell responses. This review presents a comprehensive summary of research concerning the effects of plant lectins on the main physiological activities of neutrophils, such as migration, degranulation, release of inflammatory mediators, phagocytosis, and apoptosis. The reports included herein illustrate the modulation of inflammatory processes by plant lectins.
Keywords: Activation, inflammation, lectins, modulation, neutrophil, plant, migration, degranulation, phagocytosis, apoptosis, Vatairea macrocarpa, Pisum arvense, Dioclea rostrata