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Blood. 2010 Apr 29;115(17):3427-36. doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-10-247296. Epub 2010 Mar 1.

Deadly allies: the fatal interplay between platelets and metastasizing cancer cells.

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Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology, Georg August University, Göttingen, Germany.


The general notion that functional platelets are important for successful hematogenous tumor metastasis has been inaugurated more than 4 decades ago and has since been corroborated in numerous experimental settings. Thorough preclinical investigations have, at least in part, clarified some specifics regarding the involvement of platelet adhesion receptors, such as thrombin receptors or integrins, in the metastasis cascade. Pivotal preclinical experiments have demonstrated that hematogenous tumor spread was dramatically diminished when platelets were depleted from the circulation or when functions of platelet surface receptors were inhibited pharmacologically or genetically. Such insight has inspired researchers to devise novel antitumoral therapies based on targeting platelet receptors. However, several mechanistic aspects underlying the impact of platelet receptors on tumor metastasis are not fully understood, and agents directed against platelet receptors have not yet found their way into the clinic. In addition, recent results suggesting that targeted inhibition of certain platelet surface receptors may even result in enhanced experimental tumor metastasis have demonstrated vividly that the role of platelets in tumor metastasis is more complex than has been anticipated previously. This review gives a comprehensive overview on the most important platelet receptors and their putative involvement in hematogenous metastasis of malignant tumors.

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