Objective: Inflammatory markers, such as hs-CRP (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein), have been reported to be related to peripheral artery disease (PAD). Galectin-3, a biomarker of fibrosis, has been linked to vascular remodeling and atherogenesis. However, its prospective association with incident PAD is unknown; as is the influence of inflammation on the association between galectin-3 and PAD. Approach and Results: In 9851 Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study participants free of PAD at baseline (1996-1998), we quantified the association of galactin-3 and hs-CRP with incident PAD (hospitalizations with PAD diagnosis [International Classification of Diseases-Ninth Revision: 440.2-440.4] or leg revascularization [eg, International Classification of Diseases-Ninth Revision: 38.18]) as well as its severe form, critical limb ischemia (PAD cases with resting pain, ulcer, gangrene, or leg amputation) using Cox models. Over a median follow-up of 17.4 years, there were 316 cases of PAD including 119 critical limb ischemia cases. Log-transformed galectin-3 was associated with incident PAD (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.17 [1.05-1.31] per 1 SD increment) and critical limb ischemia (1.25 [1.05-1.49] per 1 SD increment). The association was slightly attenuated after further adjusting for hs-CRP (1.14 [1.02-1.27] and 1.22 [1.02-1.45], respectively). Log-transformed hs-CRP demonstrated robust associations with PAD and critical limb ischemia even after adjusting for galectin-3 (adjusted hazard ratio per 1 SD increment 1.34 [1.18-1.52] and 1.34 [1.09-1.65], respectively). The addition of galectin-3 and hs-CRP to traditional atherosclerotic predictors (C statistic of the base model 0.843 [0.815-0.871]) improved the risk prediction of PAD (ΔC statistics, 0.011 [0.002-0.020]).
Conclusions: Galectin-3 and hs-CRP were independently associated with incident PAD in the general population, supporting the involvement of fibrosis and inflammation in the pathophysiology of PAD.
Keywords: epidemiology; fibrosis; inflammation; peripheral arterial disease.