Objectives: To determine whether Gal-3 mediates sustained atrial fibrillation (AF)-induced atrial structural and electrical remodeling and contributes to AF perpetuation.
Background: Galectin-3 (Gal-3) mediates extracellular matrix remodeling in heart failure, but its role in AF progression remains unexplored.
Methods: We examined intracardiac blood samples from patients with AF (N=55) to identify potential biomarkers of AF recurrence. In a sheep model of tachypacing-induced AF (N=20), we tested the effects of Gal-3 inhibition during AF progression.
Results: In patients, intracardiac serum Gal-3 levels were greater in persistent than paroxysmal AF and independently predicted atrial tachyarrhythmia recurrences after a single ablation procedure. In the sheep model, both Gal-3 and TGF-β1 were elevated in the atria of persistent AF animals. The Gal-3 inhibitor GM-CT-01 (GMCT) reduced both Gal-3 and TGF-β1-induced sheep atrial fibroblast migration and proliferation in vitro. GMCT (12 mg/kg twice/week) prevented the increase in serum procollagen type III N-terminal peptide seen during progression to persistent AF, and also mitigated atrial dilatation, myocyte hypertrophy, fibrosis, and the expected increase in dominant frequency of excitation. Atria of GMCT-treated animals had significantly less TGF-β1-Smad2/3 signaling pathway activation and expression of α-smooth muscle actin and collagen than saline-treated animals. Ex-vivo hearts from GMCT-treated animals had significantly longer action potential durations and fewer rotors and wavebreaks during AF, and myocytes had lower functional expression of inward rectifier K+ channel (Kir2.3) than saline-treated animals. Importantly, GMCT increased the probability of spontaneous AF termination, decreased AF inducibility and reduced overall AF burden.
Conclusions: Inhibiting Gal-3 during AF progression might be useful as an adjuvant treatment to improve outcomes of catheter ablation for persistent AF. Gal-3 inhibition may be a potential new upstream therapy for prevention of AF progression.
Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Catheter ablation; Fibrosis; Galectin-3; Upstream therapy.