Galectin-3 is overexpressed in advanced cirrhosis and predicts post-liver transplant infectious complications
Eduardo Cervantes-Alvarez 1 2 , Nathaly Limon-de la Rosa 1 , Mario Vilatoba 3 , Carlos Pérez-Monter 1 , Sahara Hurtado-Gomez 3 , Cynthia Martinez-Cabrera 3 , Josepmaria Argemi 4 5 , Elisa Alatorre-Arenas 1 , Susana Yarza-Regalado 1 , Farid Tejeda-Dominguez 6 , Maria Jose Lizardo-Thiebaud 6 , Osvely Mendez-Guerrero 1 , Armando Gamboa-Dominguez 7 , Carlos A Aguilar-Salinas 8 , Christene A Huang 9 , David Kershenobich 1 , Ramon Bataller 4 5 , Aldo Torre 1 , Nalu Navarro-Alvarez 1 6 9
Background & aims: Patients with advanced cirrhosis often have immune dysfunction and are more susceptible to infections. Galectin-3 is a β-galactoside-binding lectin implicated in inflammation, immune regulation and liver fibrosis. We aim to investigate galectin-3 expression in advanced cirrhosis and its ability to predict post-transplant infectious complications.
Methods: We collected sera and liver samples from 129 cirrhotic patients at the time of liver transplantation and from an external cohort of 37 patients with alcoholic liver disease including alcoholic hepatitis (AH) at the time of diagnosis. Galectin-3 was assessed by ELISA, real-time PCR, immunohistochemistry and RNA-seq. Receiver operating characteristic curves and Cox proportional-hazards regression analysis were performed to assess the predictive power of galectin-3 for disease severity and post-transplant infections.
Results: Increased galectin-3 levels were found in advanced cirrhosis. Galectin-3 significantly correlated with disease severity parameters and inflammatory markers. Galectin-3 had significant discriminating power for compensated and advanced cirrhosis (AUC = 0.78/0.84, circulating/liver galectin-3; p < .01), and was even higher to discriminate severe AH (AUC = 0.95, p < .0001). Cox Proportional-hazard model showed that galectin-3, MELD-Na and the presence of SIRS predict the development of post-transplant infectious complications. Patients with circulating galectin-3 (>16.58 ng/ml) were at 2.19-fold 95% CI (1.12-4.29) increased risk, but when combined with MELD-Na > 20.0 and SIRS, the risk to develop post-transplant infectious complications, increased to 4.60, 95% CI (2.38-8.90).
Conclusion: Galectin-3 is a novel biological marker of active inflammation and disease severity that could be clinically useful alone or in combination with other scores to discriminate advanced cirrhosis and predict post-transplant infectious complications.