Promotion of experimental thrombus formation by the procoagulant activity of breast cancer cells

M. A. Berny-Lang, J. E. Aslan, G. W. Tormoen, I. A. Patel, P. E. Bock, A. Gruber, O. J.T. McCarty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The routine observation of tumor emboli in the peripheral blood of patients with carcinomas raises questions about the clinical relevance of these circulating tumor cells. Thrombosis is a common clinical manifestation of cancer, and circulating tumor cells may play a pathogenetic role in this process. The presence of coagulation-associated molecules on cancer cells has been described, but the mechanisms by which circulating tumor cells augment or alter coagulation remains unclear. In this study we utilized suspensions of a metastatic adenocarcinoma cell line, MDA-MB-231, and a non-metastatic breast epithelial cell line, MCF-10A, as models of circulating tumor cells to determine the thromobogenic activity of these blood-foreign cells. In human plasma, both metastatic MDA-MB-231 cells and non-metastatic MCF-10A cells significantly enhanced clotting kinetics. The effect of MDA-MB-231 and MCF-10A cells on clotting times was cell number-dependent and inhibited by a neutralizing antibody to tissue factor (TF) as well as inhibitors of activated factor X and thrombin. Using fluorescence microscopy, we found that both MDA-MB-231 and MCF-10A cells supported the binding of fluorescently labeled thrombin. Furthermore, in a model of thrombus formation under pressure-driven flow, MDA-MB-231 and MCF-10A cells significantly decreased the time to occlusion. Our findings indicate that the presence of breast epithelial cells in blood can stimulate coagulation in a TF-dependent manner, suggesting that tumor cells that enter the irculation may promote the formation of occlusive thrombi under shear flow conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number015014
JournalPhysical Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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