Elevated numbers and altered subsets of procoagulant microparticles in breast cancer patients using endocrine therapy

Marijke C. Trappenburg*, Muriel van Schilfgaarde, Edwin O. Bredewold, Michiel C. van Aalderen, Henri M. H. Spronk, Hugo ten Cate, Anja Leyte, Wim E. Terpstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: Microparticles (MP) can be elevated in cancer and thromboembolic disease. We hypothesized a role for MP in the hypercoagulable state in breast cancer patients using endocrine therapy, in whom both cancer and the use of endocrine therapy are independent risk factors for the development of thrombosis. Design and methods: Plasma samples were collected from 40 breast cancer patients using endocrine therapy (20 patients without metastases receiving adjuvant therapy and 20 patients with metastatic disease treated in a palliative setting) and from 20 female healthy controls. The endocrine therapy used was either an antiestrogen or an aromatase inhibitor. Numbers and cellular origin of MP subsets were analyzed by flowcytometry. MP-associated procoagulant activity was measured using a thrombin generation assay using conditions that allow analysis of MP induced thrombin generation. Results: Breast cancer patients using endocrine therapy had higher levels of MP positive for Annexin V (median 10000 vs 6500 x 10E6/l), P-selectin (330 vs 200 x 10E6/l), tissue factor (33 vs 15 x 10E6/l), and of MP derived from platelets (CD41) and leukocytes (CD45). Thrombin generation in plasma was dependent on the presence of MP and thrombin generation performed after addition of isolated MP to normal plasma showed a higher endogenous thrombin potential (1105 vs 1029 nM. min) in breast cancer patients. No differences were observed in MP levels and thrombin generation parameters between the metastatic and adjuvant group. Conclusion: Breast cancer patients using endocrine therapy have an increased MP number and a higher MP-dependent thrombin generation, irrespective of the presence of metastatic disease. Altered MP subset characteristics in these patients, especially the higher number of (activated) platelet derived MP and leukocyte derived MP, may in part explain a heightened procoagulant state in breast cancer patients using endocrine therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-369
JournalThrombosis Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • Microparticles
  • Thrombin generation
  • Breast cancer
  • Endocrine therapy
  • Tissue factor
  • P-selectin

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