Galectin-3, carotid plaque vulnerability, and potential effects of statin therapy

N. P.E. Kadoglou, G. S. Sfyroeras, A. Spathis, C. Gkekas, A. Gastounioti, G. Mantas, K. S. Nikita, P. Karakitsos, C. D. Liapis

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39 Scopus citations


Objectives Galectin-3, a member of galectines, a family of β-galactoside-specific lectins, has been reported to propagate vascular inflammation. The role of galectin-3 in carotid atherosclerosis is controversial. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship of galectin-3 with plaque vulnerability in patients with high grade carotid stenosis. Methods This was a cross sectional study of patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy (CEA). Carotid plaques obtained from 78 consecutive patients (40 symptomatic [SG], 38 asymptomatic [AG]) undergoing CEA were histologically analyzed for galectin-3, macrophages (CD68) and laminin. Pre-operatively the biochemical profile and plaque echogenicity (gray-scale median, GSM) score were determined. Results There were no significant differences in clinical and demographic parameters between SG and AG (p >.05). The SG had a lower GSM score (44.21 ± 18.24 vs. 68.79 ± 28.79, p <.001) and a smaller positive stained area for galectin-3 (4.89 ± 1.60% vs. 12.01 ± 5.91%, p <.001) and laminin (0.88 ± 0.71% vs. 3.46 ± 2.12%, p <.001) than the AG. On the other hand, intra-plaque macrophage content was increased in SG (p <.001). For the whole cohort, symptomatic status was independently associated with intra-plaque contents of both galectin-3 (OR = 0.634, p <.001), and GSM score (OR = 0.750, p <.001). Notably, patients on long term statin treatment had elevated galectin-3 and lowered macrophage intra-plaque concentrations compared with those on short term treatment (p <.05). Conclusions A low galectin-3 intra-plaque concentration seems to correlate with clinically and ultrasonically defined unstable human carotid plaques. Long term statin treatment may induce increase of intra-plaque galectin-3 concentration mediating plaque stabilization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-9
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Carotid atherosclerosis
  • Galectin-3
  • Plaque vulnerability
  • Statins
  • Stroke/transient ischemic attack


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