The role of blood platelets in tumor angiogenesis

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011 Apr;1815(2):189-96. doi: 10.1016/j.bbcan.2010.12.001. Epub 2010 Dec 16.


Coagulation abnormalities occur frequently in cancer patients. It is becoming evident that blood platelets have an important function in this process. However, understanding of the underlying mechanisms is still very modest. In this review, we discuss the role of platelets in tumor angiogenesis and growth and suggest their potential significance in malignancies. Platelets contain various pro-and antiangiogenic molecules, which seem to be endocytosed and sequestered in different populations of α-granules. Furthermore, tumor endothelial cells are phenotypically and functionally different from endothelial cells in healthy tissue, stimulating local platelet adhesion and subsequent activation. As a consequence, platelets are able to secrete their angiogenic and angiostatic content, most likely in a regulated manner. The overall effect of these platelet-endothelium interactions appears to be proangiogenic, stimulating tumor angiogenesis. We favor the view that local adhesion and activation of blood platelets and dysregulation of coagulation represent underestimated pathways in the progression of cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism*