Inflammation plays a key role in atherosclerosis. Galectin-3 is a macrophage- and endothelium-derived mediator actively involved in the regulation of many aspects of inflammatory cell behaviour. The aim of this study is to quantify plasma Galectin-3 in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) and different clinical manifestation at the moment of observation in order to verify whether Galectin-3 could be a useful biomarker of atherosclerotic state. We enrolled 125 patients affected by CAD, angiographically documented (70 stable, 55 unstable). They underwent accurate examinations and anamnestic data was collected. The most important traditional risk factors, such as age, hypertension, and body mass index, were reported. Plasma Galectin-3 was quantified using an ELISA kit. Unstable patients (n = 55) had a higher plasma Galectin-3 levels in respect to the stable subjects (27.75 ng/mL (19.27-39.09) vs 6.48 ng/ml (4.88-8.83), p<0.001. A trend in correlation between plasma Galectin-3 levels and number of vessels compromised seems to be present: CAD patients with three-vessel disease had higher levels of Galectin-3 than patients with one-or two-vessel disease (17.39 ng/ml (10.75-29.82) vs 9.18 ng/ml (5.56-23.22), p=0.058. The significantly higher plasma Galectin-3 levels in patients with unstable angina in respect to the stable angina confirm the involvement of Galectin-3 in promoting macrophage activation and monocyte attraction. Despite the distribution of CAD in patients with acute and chronic coronary disease being similar, we may hypothesize that Galectin-3 could be a useful biomarker of atherosclerotic plaque and in particular of its destabilization.
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