Galectin-3 (Gal-3), a member of the β-galactoside lectin family, has an important role in immune regulation. In hypertensive rats and heart failure patients, Gal-3 is considered a marker for an unfavorable prognosis. Nevertheless, the role and mechanism of Gal-3 action in hypertension-induced target organ damage are unknown. We hypothesized that, in angiotensin II (ANG II)-induced hypertension, genetic deletion of Gal-3 prevents left ventricular (LV) adverse remodeling and LV dysfunction by reducing the innate immune responses and myocardial fibrosis. To induce hypertension, male C57BL/6J and Gal-3 knockout (KO) mice were infused with ANG II (3 μg·min−1·kg−1 sc) for 8 wk. We assessed: 1) systolic blood pressure by plethysmography, 2) LV function and remodeling by echocardiography, 3) myocardial fibrosis by histology, 4) cardiac CD68+ macrophage infiltration by histology, 5) ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expression by Western blotting, 6) plasma cytokines, including interleukin-6 (IL-6), by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and 7) regulatory T (Treg) cells by flow cytometry as detected by their combined expression of CD4, CD25, and FOXP3. Systolic blood pressure and cardiac hypertrophy increased similarly in both mouse strains when infused with ANG II. However, hypertensive C57BL/6J mice suffered impaired ejection and shortening fractions. In these mice, the extent of myocardial fibrosis and macrophage infiltration was greater in histological sections, and cardiac ICAM-1, as well as plasma IL-6, expression was higher as assessed by Western blotting. However, all these parameters were blunted in Gal-3 KO mice. Hypertensive Gal-3 KO mice also had a higher number of splenic Treg lymphocytes. In conclusion, in ANG II-induced hypertension, genetic deletion of Gal-3 prevented LV dysfunction without affecting blood pressure or LV hypertrophy. This study indicates that the ANG II effects are, in part, mediated or triggered by Gal-3 together with the related intercellular signaling (ICAM-1 and IL-6), leading to cardiac inflammation and fibrosis.
- angiotensin II
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