|Jmol-3D images||Image 1|
|Molar mass||180.156 g mol−1|
167 °C, 440 K, 333 °F
|Solubility in water||683.0 g/L|
| (what is: / ?)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Structure and isomerism 
Galactose exists in both open-chain and cyclic form. The open-chain form has a carbonyl at the end of the chain. In the open-chain form D- and L- isomers cannot be separated, but the cyclic forms can be crystallized and isolated.
Four isomers are cyclic, two of them with a pyranose (six-membered) ring, two with a furanose (five-membered) ring. Galactofuranose occurs in bacteria, fungi and protozoa.  In the cyclic form there are two anomers, named alpha and beta, since the transition from the open-chain form to the cyclic form involves the creation of a new stereocenter at the site of the open-chain carbonyl. In the beta form, the alcohol group is in the equatorial position, whereas in the alpha form, the alcohol group is in the axial position.
Relationship to lactose 
Galactose is a monosaccharide. When combined with glucose (monosaccharide), through a condensation reaction, the result is the disaccharide lactose. The hydrolysis of lactose to glucose and galactose is catalyzed by the enzymes lactase and β-galactosidase. The latter is produced by the lac operon in Escherichia coli.
Lactose is found primarily in milk and milk products, although it can also be found in breads and cereals. Galactose metabolism, which converts galactose into glucose, is carried out by the three principal enzymes in a mechanism known as the Leloir pathway. The enzymes are listed in the order of the metabolic pathway: galactokinase (GALK), galactose-1-phosphate uridyltransferase (GALT), and UDP-galactose-4’-epimerase (GALE).
In the human body, glucose is changed into galactose via hexoneogenesis to enable the mammary glands to secrete lactose. However, most lactose in breast milk is synthesized from galactose taken up from the blood, and only 35±6% is made from galactose from de novo synthesis.  Glycerol also contributes some to the mammary galactose production.
|Metabolism of common monosaccharides and some biochemical reactions of glucose|
Glucose is the primary metabolic fuel for humans. It is more stable than galactose and is less susceptible to the formation of nonspecific glycoconjugates, molecules with at least one sugar attached to a protein or lipid. Many speculate that it is for this reason that a pathway for rapid conversion from galactose to glucose has been highly conserved among many species.
The main pathway of galactose metabolism is the Leloir pathway; humans and other species, however, have been noted to contain several alternate pathways, such as the De Ley Doudoroff pathway. The Leloir pathway consists of the latter stage of a two-part process that converts β-D-galactose to UDP-glucose. The initial stage is the conversion of β-D-galactose to α-D-galactose by the enzyme, mutarotase (GALM). The Leloir pathway then carries out the conversion of α-D-galactose to UDP-glucose via three principle enzymes. Galactokinase (GALK) phosphorylates α-D-galactose to galactose-1-phosphate, or Gal-1-P. Galactose-1-phosphate uridyltransferase (GALT) then transfers a UMP group from UDP-glucose to Gal-1-P to form UDP-galactose. Finally, UDP galactose-4’-epimerase (GALE) interconverts UDP-galactose and UDP-glucose, thereby completing the pathway.
However, those suffering from galactosemia cannot properly break down galactose as the result of a genetically inherited mutation in one of the enzymes in the Leloir pathway. These individuals cannot break down galactose properly, so the consumption of even small amounts of galactose is harmful to galactosemics.
Clinical significance 
Chronic systemic exposure of mice, rats, and Drosophila to D-galactose causes the acceleration of senescence (aging) and has been used as an aging model. Two studies have suggested a possible link between galactose in milk and ovarian cancer. Other studies show no correlation, even in the presence of defective galactose metabolism. More recently, pooled analysis done by the Harvard School of Public Health showed no specific correlation between lactose-containing foods and ovarian cancer, and showed statistically insignificant increases in risk for consumption of lactose at ≥30 g/d. More research is necessary to ascertain possible risks.
Some ongoing studies suggest galactose may have a role in treatment of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (a kidney disease resulting in kidney failure and proteinuria). This effect is likely to be a result of binding of galactose to FSGS factor.
Galactose is a component of the antigens present on blood cells that determine blood type within the ABO blood group system. In O and A antigens, there are two monomers of galactose on the antigens, whereas in the B antigens there are three monomers of glucose.
See also 
- Ophardt, C. Galactose
- Nassau et al. Galactofuranose Biosynthesis in Escherichia coli K-12:... JOURNAL OF BACTERIOLOGY, Feb. 1996, p. 1047–1052
- Sibley, E. Lactose Intolerance
- Sunehag A, Tigas S, Haymond MW (January 2003). "Contribution of plasma galactose and glucose to milk lactose synthesis during galactose ingestion". J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 88 (1): 225–9. doi:10.1210/jc.2002-020768. PMID 12519857.
- Sunehag AL, Louie K, Bier JL, Tigas S, Haymond MW (January 2002). "Hexoneogenesis in the human breast during lactation". J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 87 (1): 297–301. doi:10.1210/jc.87.1.297. PMID 11788663.
- Fridovich-Keil JL, Walter JH. 72. "Galactosemia". The Online Metabolic and Molecular Bases of Inherited Disease.
a 4 b 21 c 22 d 22
- Bosch AM (August 2006). "Classical galactosaemia revisited". J. Inherit. Metab. Dis. 29 (4): 516–25. doi:10.1007/s10545-006-0382-0. PMID 16838075.
a 517 b 516 c 519
- Elsas, L. I. . Galactosemia
- Cui, X.; Zuo, P.; Zhang, Q.; Li, X.; Hu, Y.; Long, J.; Packer, L.; Liu, J. (2006). "Chronic systemic D-galactose exposure induces memory loss, neurodegeneration, and oxidative damage in mice: protective effects of R-alpha-lipoic acid". Journal of neuroscience research 84 (3): 647–654. doi:10.1002/jnr.20899. PMID 16710848.
- Cramer D (1989). "Lactase persistence and milk consumption as determinants of ovarian cancer risk". Am J Epidemiol 130 (5): 904–10. PMID 2510499.
- Cramer D, Harlow B, Willett W, Welch W, Bell D, Scully R, Ng W, Knapp R (1989). "Galactose consumption and metabolism in relation to the risk of ovarian cancer". Lancet 2 (8654): 66–71. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(89)90313-9. PMID 2567871.
- Marc T. Goodman, Anna H. Wu, Ko-Hui Tung, Katharine McDuffie, Daniel W. Cramer, Lynne R. Wilkens, Keith Terada, Juergen K. V. Reichardt, and Won G. Ng (2002). "Association of Galactose-1-Phosphate Uridyltransferase Activity and N314D Genotype with the Risk of Ovarian Cancer". Am. J. Epidemiol 156 (8): 693–701. doi:10.1093/aje/kwf104. PMID 12370157.
- Fung, W. L. Alan, Risch, Harvey, McLaughlin, John, Rosen, Barry, Cole, David, Vesprini, Danny, Narod, Steven A. (2003). "The N314D Polymorphism of Galactose-1-Phosphate Uridyl Transferase Does Not Modify the Risk of Ovarian Cancer". Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 12 (7): 678–80. PMID 12869412.
- Genkinger, Jeanine M., Hunter, David J., Spiegelman, Donna, Anderson, Kristin E., Arslan, Alan, Beeson, W. Lawrence, Buring, Julie E., Fraser, Gary E., Freudenheim, Jo L., Goldbohm, R. Alexandra, Hankinson, Susan E., Jacobs, David R., Jr., Koushik, Anita, Lacey, James V., Jr., Larsson, Susanna C., Leitzmann, Michael, McCullough, Marji L., Miller, Anthony B., Rodriguez, Carmen, Rohan, Thomas E., Schouten, Leo J., Shore, Roy, Smit, Ellen, Wolk, Alicja, Zhang, Shumin M., Smith-Warner, Stephanie A. (2006). "Dairy Products and Ovarian Cancer: A Pooled Analysis of 12 Cohort Studies". Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 15 (2): 364–372. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-05-0484. PMID 16492930.
- Peter H. Raven & George B. Johnson (1995). Carol J. Mills (ed), ed. Understanding Biology (3rd ed.). WM C. Brown. p. 203. ISBN 0-697-22213-6.