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Le Centre de Recherche en Cancérologie de Marseille fête ses 50 ans ! -

07 2016 Blood

Metastasis: new functional implications of platelets and megakaryocytes.


Leblanc R, Peyruchaud O


Platelets are essential components of hemostasis. Due to a plethora of factors released on activation, platelet functions are also connected to tumor growth, notably by acting on angiogenesis. It is now well recognized that major roles of platelets in the poor outcome of cancer patients occurs during hematogenous dissemination of cancer cells. In this review, we describe recent insights into the molecular mechanisms supporting the prometastatic activity of platelets. Platelets have been shown to promote survival of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the bloodstream by conferring resistance to the shear stress and attack from natural killer cells. Recently, platelets were found to promote and/or maintain the state of epithelial to mesenchymal transition on CTCs through platelet secretion of transforming growth factor β in response to CTC activation. At a later stage in the metastatic process, platelets promote extravasation and establishment of metastatic cells in distant organs as observed in bone. This particular environment is also the site of hematopoiesis, megakaryocytopoiesis, and platelet production. Increasing the number of megakaryocytes (MKs) in the bone marrow results in a high bone mass phenotype and inhibits skeletal metastasis formation of prostate cancer cells. As a result of their specific location in vascular niches in the bone marrow, MK activity might contribute to the « seed and soil » suitability between CTCs and bone. In conclusion, recent findings have made a great advance in our knowledge on how platelets contribute to the metastatic dissemination of cancer cells and that may support the development of new antimetastasis therapies.

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