Galectin-3 (Gal-3) has been suggested to have both pro- and anti-atherogenic properties. High plasma Gal-3 levels are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular (CV) death. However, it has so far not been investigated if plasma Gal-3 levels can predict the risk for future stroke in patients suffering from carotid atherosclerosis. The aim of this study was to investigate whether Gal-3 could be used as a marker to predict postoperative cerebrovascular ischemic events among patients who underwent carotid endarterectomy (CEA).Methods:
Plasma samples were obtained from 558 CEA patients and Gal-3 levels were analyzed by the proximity extension assay technique. The Swedish national in-patient health register was used to identify postoperative cerebrovascular events during the follow-up period (42.6 ± 26.2 months).Results:
Plasma Gal-3 was increased in patients treated for a symptomatic carotid stenosis (p = 0.013). Patients with Gal-3 levels above the median value had an increased incidence of stroke as shown by Kaplan-Meier curves of event-free survival (p = 0.007). Gal-3 was a predictor of postoperative stroke among women (hazard ratio 15.1, 95% CI 1.3-172.2; p = 0.028) even after correction for traditional CV risk factors.Conclusions:
This study is the first to show that increased plasma levels of Gal-3 can help in predicting the occurrence of postoperative strokes among female subjects who undergo CEA, independently of traditional risk factors for cerebrovascular disease. This finding suggests that Gal-3 could be used as a marker to identify patients in need of intensified postoperative medical care.