Spontaneous Preterm Birth: Elevated Galectin-3 and Telomere Shortening May Reflect a Common Pathway of Enhanced Inflammation and Senescence

Sivan Farladansky-Gershnabel, Nadav Dekel, Tal Biron-Shental, Gil Shechter-Maor, Aliza Amiel, Avivit Weisz, Sydney Benchetrit, Tali Zitman-Gal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Preterm delivery complicates 5–12% of pregnancies and is the primary cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. The pathophysiology of preterm labor and parturition is not fully known, although it is probably related to inflammation and placental senescence. Telomere shortening is related to senescence and galectin-3 (Gal-3) protein is involved in cell growth, differentiation, inflammation, and fibrosis. This study examined changes in Gal-3 expression and telomere homeostasis (which represent inflammatory and stress markers) in maternal blood and placental tissue of spontaneous preterm births (SPTB) and uncomplicated, spontaneous term pregnancies (NTP) during labor. Participants included 19 women with NTP and 11 with SPTB who were enrolled during admission for delivery. Maternal blood samples were obtained along with placental tissue for Gal-3 analysis and telomere length evaluation. Gal-3 protein expression in placental tissue was increased in SPTB compared to NTP (fold change: 1.89 ± 0.36, P < 0.05). Gal-3 immunohistochemistry demonstrated strong staining in placental extravillous trophoblast tissue from SPTB. Maternal blood levels of Gal-3 protein were elevated in SPTB compared to NTP (19.3 ± 1.3 ng/ml vs. 13.6 ± 1.07 ng/ml, P = 0.001). Placental samples from SPTB had a higher percentage of trophoblasts with short telomeres (47.6%) compared to NTP (15.6%, P < 0.0001). Aggregate formation was enhanced in SPTB (7.8%) compared to NTP (1.98%, P < 0.0001). Maternal blood and placental samples from SPTB had shorter telomeres and increased Gal-3 expression compared to NTP. These findings suggest that increased senescence and inflammation might be factors in the abnormal physiology of spontaneous preterm labor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-493
Number of pages7
JournalReproductive Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023


FundersFunder number
Eliaz Therapeutics, Inc.


    • Galectin-3
    • Spontaneous preterm birth
    • Telomere homeostasis
    • Term pregnancies


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