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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Cytotoxicity of unstimulated and thrombin-activated platelets to human tumour cells.

Platelet cytotoxicity was examined in vitro using various tumour cell lines as target cells. Thrombin-activated platelets as well as unstimulated platelets exerted a cytotoxic effect on some tumour cell lines including K562, KU812, LU99A and KG1, but other tumour cell lines including U937, MIA PaCa-2 and MOLT-4 were completely insensitive to this effect. Electron microscopic examinations showed that unstimulated platelets adhered to target K562 cells but thrombin-activated platelets did not. Morphological changes of K562 cells induced by unstimulated and thrombin-activated platelets were indistinguishable. When platelets and K562 cells were co-cultured in the same vessel but were prevented from coming into direct cell-to-cell contact by means of a membrane barrier, cytotoxicity of unstimulated platelets was completely blocked but that of thrombin-activated platelets was still detectable. However, no cytotoxic activity to K562 cells was detected in the supernatants obtained after stimulation of platelets with either target cells or thrombin for 4 hr. Extracellular Ca2+ ion was not required for the platelet-mediated cytotoxicity. Esterase inhibitors SBTI and TPCK had no effect on the formation of platelet-target cell adhesion but inhibited the cytotoxicity of unstimulated platelets. In contrast, the inhibitors had no effect on the cytotoxic activity of thrombin-activated platelets. These results suggest that direct contact between platelets and target cells is essential for unstimulated platelets but not for thrombin-activated platelets to exert cytotoxicity and that some esterases play a role in the cytotoxic process of unstimulated platelets. They also provide evidence that some cytotoxic effectors are soluble and easily inactivated factors liberated by activated platelets. Our findings indicate that platelets may be one of the cytotoxic effector cells against certain neoplasia.[1]


  1. Cytotoxicity of unstimulated and thrombin-activated platelets to human tumour cells. Sagawa, T., Tominaga, A., Kodama, T., Okada, M. Immunology (1993) [Pubmed]
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