Interactions of cancer cells with the primary tumor microenvironment are important determinants of cancer progression toward metastasis but it is unknown whether additional prometastatic signals are provided during the intravascular transit to the site of metastasis. Here, we show that platelet-tumor cell interactions are sufficient to prime tumor cells for subsequent metastasis. Platelet-derived TGFβ and direct platelet-tumor cell contacts synergistically activate the TGFβ/Smad and NF-κB pathways in cancer cells, resulting in their transition to an invasive mesenchymal-like phenotype and enhanced metastasis in vivo. Inhibition of NF-κB signaling in cancer cells or ablation of TGFβ1 expression solely in platelets protects against lung metastasis in vivo. Thus, cancer cells rely on platelet-derived signals outside of the primary tumor for efficient metastasis.
2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.