Levels and Change in Galectin-3 and Association With Cardiovascular Events: The ARIC Study

J Am Heart Assoc. 2020 Jul 7;9(13):e015405. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.119.015405. Epub 2020 Jun 23.


Background Circulating galectin-3 levels provide prognostic information in patients with established heart failure (HF), but the associations between galectin-3 levels and other incident cardiovascular events in asymptomatic individuals at midlife and when remeasured ≈15 years later are largely uncharacterized. Methods and Results Using multivariable Cox proportional hazards models, we identified associations between plasma galectin-3 levels (hazard ratio [HR] per 1 SD increase in natural log galectin-3) and incident coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, HF hospitalization, and total mortality in ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) participants free of cardiovascular disease at ARIC visit 4 (1996-1998; n=9247) and at ARIC visit 5 (2011-2013; n=4829). Higher galectin-3 level at visit 4 (median age 62) was independently associated with incident coronary heart disease (adjusted HR, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.06-1.60), ischemic stroke (HR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.01-2.00), HF (HR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.17-1.76), and mortality (HR, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.35-1.80). At visit 5 (median age, 74), higher galectin-3 level was associated with incident HF (HR, 1.93; 95% CI, 1.15-3.24) and total mortality (HR, 1.70; 95% CI, 1.15-2.52), but not coronary heart disease or stoke. Individuals with the greatest increase in galectin-3 levels from visit 4 to visit 5 were also at increased risk of incident HF and total mortality. Conclusions In a large, biracial community-based cohort, galectin-3 measured at midlife and older age was associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events. An increase in galectin-3 levels over this period was also associated with increased risk.

Keywords: adverse cardiovascular events; galectin‐3; heart failure; prognosis; risk.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Proteins
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy
  • Female
  • Galectins / blood*
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Up-Regulation


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Proteins
  • Galectins
  • LGALS3 protein, human