• biomarkers;
  • cardiovascular system;
  • galectin-3;
  • general population;
  • prognosis

Abstract.  de Boer RA, van Veldhuisen DJ, Gansevoort RT, Muller Kobold AC, van Gilst WH, Hillege HL, Bakker SJL, van der Harst P (University of Groningen). The fibrosis marker galectin-3 and outcome in the general population. J Intern Med 2012; 272: 55–64.

Objective.  Galectin-3 is involved in fibrosis and inflammation and plays a role in heart failure, renal disease, obesity and cancer. We aimed to establish the relationship between galectin-3 and cardiovascular (CV) risk factors and mortality in the general population.

Design and subjects.  This study included 7968 subjects from the Prevention of REnal and Vascular ENd-stage Disease (PREVEND) cohort, with a median follow-up of approximately 10 years. Plasma galectin-3 was measured in baseline samples.

Main outcome measures.  We investigated the relationships between galectin-3 levels, demographic characteristics and risk factors of CV disease. We determined the prognostic value for all-cause, CV and cancer mortality.

Results.  The mean age of the population was 50 ± 13 years. Mean blood pressure was 129/74 mmHg, mean cholesterol was 5.7 ± 1.1 mmol L−1 and median galectin-3 was 10.9 ng mL−1 [interquartile range (IQR) 9.0–13.1]. Galectin-3 levels correlated with a wide range of risk factors of CV disease, including blood pressure, serum lipids, body mass index, renal function and N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (< 0.0001). We observed a strong association between galectin-3 and age. Furthermore, we found a gender interaction, with female subjects (= 4001) having higher median galectin-3 levels (11.0 ng mL−1, IQR 9.1–13.4 vs. men (= 3967) 10.7 ng mL−1, IQR 8.9–12.8; < 0.0001), and galectin-3 levels in women more strongly correlated with risk factors of CV disease. After correction for the classical CV risk factors (smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes), galectin-3 levels independently predicted all-cause mortality (hazard ratio per SD galectin-3 1.09, 95% CI 1.01–1.19; = 0.036), but not CV and cancer mortality separately.

Conclusions.  Galectin-3 is associated with age and risk factors of CV disease, with a strong gender interaction for these correlations. Galectin-3 predicts all-cause mortality in the general population.