Platelets at the interface of thrombosis, inflammation, and cancer

Blood. 2015 Jul 30;126(5):582-8. doi: 10.1182/blood-2014-08-531582. Epub 2015 Jun 24.


Although once primarily recognized for its roles in hemostasis and thrombosis, the platelet has been increasingly recognized as a multipurpose cell. Indeed, circulating platelets have the ability to influence a wide range of seemingly unrelated pathophysiologic events. Here, we highlight some of the notable observations that link platelets to inflammation, reinforcing the platelet's origin from a lower vertebrate cell type with both hemostatic and immunologic roles. In addition, we consider the relevance of platelets in cancer biology by focusing on the hallmarks of cancer and the ways platelets can influence multistep development of tumors. Beyond its traditional role in hemostasis and thrombosis, the platelet's involvement in the interplay between hemostasis, thrombosis, inflammation, and cancer is likely complex, yet extremely important in each disease process. The existence of animal models of platelet dysfunction and currently used antiplatelet therapies provide a framework for understanding mechanistic insights into a wide range of pathophysiologic events. Thus, the basic scientist studying platelet function can think beyond the traditional hemostasis and thrombosis paradigms, while the practicing hematologist must appreciate platelet relevance in a wide range of disease processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology
  • Aspirin / pharmacology
  • Blood Platelets / immunology
  • Blood Platelets / physiology*
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell-Derived Microparticles / immunology
  • Cell-Derived Microparticles / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / blood*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / physiology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Neutrophils / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Thrombosis / blood*
  • Thrombosis / etiology
  • Thrombosis / immunology
  • Tumor Escape


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Aspirin