Tumor cell-induced platelet aggregation in vitro by human pancreatic cancer cell lines

E Heinmöller, T Schropp, O Kisker, B Simon, R Seitz, R J Weinel
Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 1995, 30 (10): 1008-16

BACKGROUND: Tumor cell-induced platelet aggregation (TCIPA) is considered to be a critical step in hematogenous metastasis.

METHODS: TCIPA was studied in vitro in six human pancreatic carcinoma cell lines (PC 3, PC 44, AsPC1, BxPC3, Capan2, Panc1).

RESULTS: Whereas all cell lines induced aggregation of washed platelets in the presence of minimal amounts of platelet-poor plasma, five cell lines also induced aggregation of platelets in platelet-rich plasma. The thrombin-antagonist hirudin inhibited TCIPA in all cell lines indicating that TCIPA is thrombin-dependent. Since pretreatment of tumor cells with phospholipase A2 or C inhibited TCIPA, the thrombin-generating activity might be confined to the tumor cell surface. Further support for a prothrombinase activity was provided by the observation that all cell lines were able to induce the aggregation of washed platelets after addition of purified coagulation factors II and V.

CONCLUSIONS: Pancreatic carcinoma cells are able to induce platelet aggregation via activation of thrombin. This might support metastasis in pancreatic cancer and possibly explain the incidence of thrombosis in this tumor.

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