Platelet-T cell aggregates in lung cancer patients: Implications for thrombosis

PLoS One. 2020 Aug 10;15(8):e0236966. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0236966. eCollection 2020.


Platelet-leukocyte aggregates (PLAs) are associated with increased thrombosis risk. The influence of PLA formation is especially important for cancer patients, since thrombosis accounts for approximately 10% of cancer-associated deaths. Our objective was to characterize and quantify PLAs in whole blood samples from lung cancer patients compared to healthy volunteers with the intent to analyze PLA formation in the context of lung cancer-associated thrombosis. Consenting lung cancer patients (57) and healthy volunteers (56) were enrolled at the Dana Cancer Center at the University of Toledo Health Science Campus. Peripheral blood samples were analyzed by flow cytometry. Patient medical history was reviewed through electronic medical records. Most importantly, we found lung cancer patients to have higher percentages of platelet-T cell aggregates (PTCAs) than healthy volunteers among both CD4+ T lymphocyte and CD8+ T lymphocyte populations. Our findings demonstrate that characterization of PTCAs may have clinical utility in differentiating lung cancer patients from healthy volunteers and stratifying lung cancer patients by history of thrombosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Platelets / pathology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Aggregation
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / blood*
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology*
  • Thrombosis / blood*
  • Thrombosis / etiology*
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

This work was supported in part by a grant from NIH/NHLBI (RO1 HL-122401) to RGW. CM was supported by a Careers in Immunology Fellowship (No funding number provided - American Association of Immunologists to RGW). There was no additional external funding received for this study.