Reliable predictors of tumor recurrence for patients with stage II colorectal cancer (CRC) are needed to select patients who should receive adjuvant chemotherapy. Although galanin (GAL) is expressed in several malignant tumors and is associated with cell proliferation and tumor growth, the prognostic value of GAL expression in CRC is poorly understood. We compared GAL expression between 56 patients with stage II and III CRC who developed tumor recurrences and 56 patients who did not. The clinical and prognostic significance of GAL expression was examined using our data and independent public datasets. We also analyzed the influence of GAL expression on the proliferation and invasive activity of CRC cells. Higher expression of GAL was associated with tumor recurrence among the CRC patients (P<0.001). Stage II CRC patients who presented with high expression levels of GAL had significantly poorer prognosis than those with low expression levels of GAL [5-year overall survival: hazard ratio (HR), 7.31; 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.38-24.04; P<0.001; 5-year recurrence-free survival: HR, 3.99; 95% CI, 1.61-9.44; P=0.004], but there was no association between GAL expression and survival in stage III CRC patients. These findings were supported by analysis of two public datasets. Functionally, siRNA-mediated silencing of GAL resulted in a significant decrease in the proliferative and invasive activities of CRC cells. In conclusion, high expression of GAL is associated with poor prognosis of stage II CRC patients and GAL expression may be related to the aggressive behavior of CRC.
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