Validation of galectin‑1 as potential diagnostic biomarker of early rheumatoid arthritis

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Galectin 1 (Gal1) is a lectin with a wide cellular expression that functions as a negative regulator of the immune system in several animal models of autoimmune diseases. Identifcation of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has improved during the last decade, although there is still a need for biomarkers allowing an early diagnosis. In this regard, it has been recently proposed that Gal1 serum levels are increased in patients with RA compared to the general population. However, this topic is controversial in the literature. In this work, we provide additional information about the potential usefulness of Gal1 serum levels as a biomarker for RA diagnosis. We studied Gal1 serum and synovial fuid levels and clinical parameters in samples from 62 patients with early arthritis belonging to the PEARL study. In addition, 24 healthy donors were studied. We found that both patients fulflling RA criteria and patients with undiferentiated arthritis showed higher Gal1 levels than healthy donors. Similar fndings were observed in synovial fuid, which showed even higher levels than serum. However, we did not fnd correlation between Gal1 levels and disease activity or disability. Therefore, our results suggest that Gal1 could be a diagnostic but not a severity biomarker.