Galectin-3 expression is associated with bladder cancer progression and clinical outcome

Tumour Biol. 2010 Aug;31(4):277-85. doi: 10.1007/s13277-010-0033-9. Epub 2010 Apr 17.


Galectin-3 belongs to a family of carbohydrate-binding proteins whose function is not fully characterized. However, it is believed to play a role in adhesion, proliferation and apoptosis in solid tumors. We aimed at investigating galectin-3 expression in bladder cancer. Galectin-3 expression was assessed by transcript profiling (U133A arrays) in a series or frozen bladder tumors (n = 105). Immunohistochemistry was performed on tissue arrays containing bladder tumors (n = 389) to evaluate associations of protein expression patterns of galectin-3 with proliferation (Ki67), apoptosis (apopdetek), bcl-2, and clinicopathologic variables. Galectin-3 protein levels were then quantified in 160 urinary specimens of bladder cancer patients and controls by enzymeimmunoanalysis. Galectin-3 gene expression levels increased in invasive tumours as compared with non-muscle invasive lesions (p = 0.001) and were associated with poor survival in patients with advanced disease (p = 0.03). Protein expression patterns also correlated galectin-3 with tumor stage (p < 0.001), grade (p = 0.03), Ki67 and apopdetek (p < 0.001), and overall survival in patients with T1G3 tumors (p < 0.001). Furthermore, galectin-3 urinary levels segregated bladder cancer patients from controls with high diagnostic accuracy (AUC = 0.7). Independent series of bladder tumors showed that transcript and protein levels of galectin-3 were differentially expressed along bladder cancer progression. Urinary protein levels served to identify bladder cancer patients. These observations suggest a role for galectin-3 as a biomarker for bladder cancer diagnostics, staging, and outcome prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Blotting, Western
  • Disease Progression
  • Galectin 3 / genetics*
  • Galectin 3 / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Prognosis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tissue Array Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Urinary Bladder / metabolism*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / pathology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Galectin 3
  • RNA, Messenger