Platelet-Leukocyte Interplay in Cancer Development and Progression

Dagmar Stoiber, Alice Assinger

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Review article

65 Citations (Scopus)


Beyond their crucial role in hemostasis, platelets are increasingly recognized as regulators of inflammation. Via modulation of the immune system by direct and indirect interactions with leukocytes, platelets regulate several aspects of tumor-associated pathology. They influence inflammatory processes in cancer at various stages: platelets alter the activation status of the endothelium, recruit leukocytes to tumor sites and attune the inflammatory milieu at sites of primary and metastatic tumors. Patients with cancer show systemic changes of platelet activation. Tumor-associated platelet activation facilitates initiation of the coagulation cascade and constitutes a significant risk for thrombosis. Tumor-activated platelets further contribute to cancer progression by promoting critical processes such as angiogenesis and metastasis. Platelets modulate innate leukocyte effector functions such as antigen presentation by dendritic cells, monocyte recruitment and differentiation or neutrophil extracellular trap formation, which sculpture immune responses but also promote thrombosis and metastasis. On the other hand, responses of the adaptive immune system are also regulated by platelets. They are also involved in T-helper cell 17 differentiation, which represents a double-edged sword in cancer progression, as these cells propagate angiogenesis and immunosuppressive activities but are also involved in recruiting immune cells into tumors and stimulating effector CD8+ T cells. Moreover, platelets fine-tune tumor surveillance processes by modulating natural killer cell-mediated cancer cell recognition and effector functions. This review aims at summarizing the role of platelet-leukocyte interactions in the development and progression of cancer and puts its focus on cancer-related alterations of platelet and leukocyte functions and their impact on cancer pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number570
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2020


  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets/pathology
  • Carcinogenesis/pathology
  • Cell Communication
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes/pathology
  • Neoplasms/pathology


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