Galectin-3 (Gal-3) is a 26-kDa lectin that regulates many aspects of inflammatory cell behavior. We assessed the hypothesis that increased levels of Gal-3 contribute to abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) progression by enhancing monocyte chemoattraction through macrophage activation. We analyzed the plasma levels of Gal-3 in 76 patients with AAA (AAA group) and 97 controls (CTL group) as well as in angiotensin II (Ang-II)-infused ApoE knockout mice. Additionally, conditioned media (CM) were used to polarize THP-1 monocyte to M1 macrophages with or without Gal-3 inhibition through small interfering RNA targeted deletion to investigate whether Gal-3 inhibition could attenuate macrophage-induced inflammation and smooth muscle cell (SMC) apoptosis. Our results showed a markedly increased expression of Gal-3 in the plasma and aorta in the AAA patients and experimental mice compared with the CTL group. An in vitro study demonstrated that the M1 cells exhibited increased Gal-3 expression. Gal-3 inhibition markedly decreased the quantity of macrophage-induced inflammatory regulators, including IL-8, TNF-α, and IL-1β, as well as messenger RNA expression and MMP-9 activity. Moreover, Gal-3-deficient CM weakened SMC apoptosis through Fas activation. These findings prove that Gal-3 may contribute to AAA progression by the activation of inflammatory macrophages, thereby promoting SMC apoptosis.
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