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Semin Thromb Hemost. 2010 Nov;36(8):888-906. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1267043. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Microparticles in cancer.

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Montreal Children's Hospital Research Institute, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Microparticles (MP) are vesicular structures released from cells upon activation, malignant transformation, stress, or death. MP may be derived from the plasma membrane (shed microvesicles), produced by endosomal pathway (exosomes), or arise from membrane blebs of apoptotic cells. The terms microparticles or microvesicles (MV) are often used as general and interchangeable descriptors of all cellular vesicles, but a more rigorous terminology is still to be established. The cargo of MP/MV consists of proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids (DNA, mRNA, microRNA), all of which may be transferred horizontally between cells. In cancer, oncogenic pathways drive production of MP/MV, and oncoproteins may be incorporated into the cargo of MV (oncosomes). Oncogenic pathways may also stimulate production of MP/MV harboring tissue factor and involved in cancer coagulopathy. In addition, the cargo of MV may include several receptors, antigens, bioactive molecules, and other species capable of stimulating tumor progression, immunotolerance, invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis. MP emanate not only from tumor cells but also from platelets, endothelium, and inflammatory cells. Indeed, circulating MP/MV harbor molecular information related to cancer-related processes and may serve as a reservoir of prognostic and predictive biomarkers to monitor genetic tumor progression, angiogenesis, thrombosis, and responses to targeted therapeutics.

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