Galectin-3 and risk of ischaemic stroke: Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke cohort

Eur J Neurol. 2017 Dec;24(12):1464-1470. doi: 10.1111/ene.13440. Epub 2017 Oct 4.


Background and purpose: Galectin-3 is a biomarker of atherosclerotic and cardiovascular disease, and may be a useful marker for ischaemic stroke risk.

Methods: The Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) cohort enrolled and examined 30 239 US participants between 2003 and 2007 (41% black, 59% white and 55% in the southeastern stroke belt). Baseline galectin-3 was measured in 526 subjects with incident ischaemic stroke over 5.4 years and in a cohort random sample (CRS) of 947 participants. Cox proportional hazards models were used to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) of ischaemic stroke by quartiles of galectin-3.

Results: In the CRS, galectin-3 was significantly higher with older age, black race, female sex, body mass index, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and kidney disease, and also in those who developed incident stroke. Participants with galectin-3 levels in the fourth versus first quartile had a 2.3-fold increased stroke risk [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.6, 3.4] in an unadjusted model. An interaction with age was found (P = 0.06), and therefore age-stratified analyses were performed. Amongst those younger than age 64, baseline galectin-3 in the second-fourth quartiles was associated with increased stroke risk (HR 3.0, 95% CI 1.6, 5.5) compared to the first quartile in an age-, race- and sex-adjusted model. The HR was 2.0 (95% CI 1.0, 4.0) with multivariable adjustment. There was no association amongst older participants.

Conclusions: Galectin-3 was associated with incident ischaemic stroke in younger but not older individuals. Confirmation of this finding, and elucidation of its implications for stroke pathophysiology and prevention, is needed.

Keywords: aging; biomarkers; cerebrovascular disease/stroke; epidemiology; galectin-3; inflammation; ischaemic stroke; risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Brain Ischemia / blood
  • Brain Ischemia / epidemiology
  • Brain Ischemia / etiology*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Galectin 3 / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / blood
  • Hypertension / complications*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Stroke / blood
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / etiology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Galectin 3
  • LGALS3 protein, human