Mechanistic explanation for platelet contribution to cancer metastasis

Thromb Res. 2014 May;133 Suppl 2:S149-57. doi: 10.1016/S0049-3848(14)50025-4.


Cancer-associated mortality is frequently caused by metastasis, however, our understanding of this process remains incomplete and therapeutic options are limited. Metastasis is a dynamic multi-step process involving intravasation of tumor cells into the host's blood and lymphatic vessels, their dissemination within the circulation, and finally arrest and extravasation in a distant organ where they establish secondary tumors. It is generally conceived that platelets contribute to all steps of hematogenous tumor dissemination. In this review, we provide an overview of the current knowledge of the platelet receptors involved in tumor cell-induced platelet aggregation, an essential immune surveillance escape mechanism of circulating tumor cells. We discuss how platelets prevent immunological attack, contribute to tumor cell extravasation and thereby facilitate colonization of distant organs.

Keywords: Aggregation; Cancer; Platelet signaling; Thrombosis; Tumor metastasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets / immunology
  • Blood Platelets / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / immunology
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / physiopathology*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / immunology
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / metabolism*
  • Platelet Aggregation / immunology
  • Platelet Aggregation / physiology*