Galectin-3 in cord blood of term and preterm infants


C. Härtel, Staff Specialist Newborn Intensive Care, Department of Paediatrics, University of Lübeck Medical School, Ratzeburger Allee 160, 23538 Lübeck, Germany. E-mail:


In recent years galectin-3 has gained attention as a signalling molecule, mainly in inflammatory diseases. Data on galectin-3 expression in neonates, however, are limited, and expression of this lectin in cord blood has not yet been reported. The aim of this study was to determine galectin-3 levels in cord blood of term and preterm neonates as well as galectin-3 levels in cord blood of term neonates after stimulation with the prevalent pathogen Streptococcus agalactiae. Cord blood samples were incubated for 24 h and galectin-3 levels were assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. There is a positive correlation between gestational age and galectin-3 levels in cord blood. Expression of galectin-3 is significantly higher in cord blood of small-for-gestational-age infants compared to appropriate-for-gestational-age infants. Stimulation with an invasive but not with a colonizing strain of S. agalactiae induced expression of galectin-3. Galectin-3 is expressed constitutively in cord blood of neonates and seems to play a role in the innate immunity of this population.