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Systemic Galectin-3 in Smokers with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Chronic Bronchitis: The Impact of Exacerbations

Authors Sundqvist M, Andelid K, Ekberg-Jansson A, Bylund J, Karlsson-Bengtsson A, Lindén A

Received 22 September 2020

Accepted for publication 21 December 2020

Published 19 February 2021 Volume 2021:16 Pages 367—377


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Martina Sundqvist,1,* Kristina Andelid,2,* Ann Ekberg-Jansson,3 Johan Bylund,4 Anna Karlsson-Bengtsson,1,5 Anders Lindén6,7

1Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden; 2COPD Center, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden; 3Department of Respiratory Medicine and Allergology, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden; 4Department of Oral Microbiology and Immunology, Institute of Odontology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden; 5Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden; 6Unit for Lung and Airway Research, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; 7Karolinska Severe COPD Center, Department of Respiratory Medicine and Allergy, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Martina Sundqvist
Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Guldhedsgatan 10A, Gothenburg, S-413 46, Sweden

Purpose: The carbohydrate-binding protein Galectin-3 is increased in several inflammatory diseases and has recently been forwarded as a systemic biomarker in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In this longitudinal study, we characterized the level of systemic Galectin-3 using blood from smokers with a history of COPD and chronic bronchitis (COPD-CB), during stable clinical conditions and exacerbations.
Patients and Methods: The study population comprised 56 long-term smokers with COPD-CB, 10 long-term smokers without lung disease (LTS) and 10 clinically healthy never-smokers (HNS). Blood samples were analyzed for levels of Galectin-3, leukocyte populations and C-reactive protein (CRP). In addition, sputum samples from the COPD-CB group were analyzed for bacterial growth.
Results: When comparing stable clinical conditions and exacerbations in the COPD-CB group, we found that the level of Galectin-3, just like that of CRP, leukocytes and neutrophils, respectively, was increased during exacerbations. However, this exacerbation-associated increase of Galectin-3 was modest. During stable clinical conditions of COPD-CB, the level of Galectin-3 was not elevated in comparison with HNS or LTS. Nor did this level of Galectin-3 distinguish patients that remained in a clinically stable condition throughout the study to those that developed an exacerbation. In addition, neither during stable clinical conditions nor during exacerbations, did the presence of bacterial growth in sputum alter Galectin-3 levels. In contrast to Galectin-3, the level of CRP, leukocytes and neutrophils, respectively, were increased during clinical stable conditions in the COPD-CB group compared with the other groups and were further enhanced during exacerbations.
Conclusion: Systemic Galectin-3 is increased in a reproducible but modest manner during exacerbations in smokers with COPD-CB. During stable clinical conditions, the level of systemic Galectin-3 does not distinguish patients that remain clinically stable from those that develop exacerbations. This makes it less likely that systemic Galectin-3 may become a clinically useful biomarker in the current setting.

Keywords: COPD, CRP, airflow limitation, exacerbation

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