Role of endogenous thrombin in tumor implantation, seeding, and spontaneous metastasis

Liang Hu, Merlin Lee, Wendy Campbell, Roman Perez-Soler, Simon Karpatkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Tumor/host-generated thrombin (endogenous thrombin) was investigated with tumor growth and metastasis experiments in mice by the use of hirudin, a highly potent specific inhibitor of thrombin. Pretreatment with hirudin inhibited tumor implantation in nude or syngeneic mice, following subcutaneous injection of 2 human and 2 murine tumors. Hirudin induced a considerable lag period in the appearance of tumor growth, compared with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) treatment, but had no effect on established tumor nodule growth in vivo or on tumor growth in vitro. Hirudin treatment induced central necrosis of the tumor nodule compared with no effect with PBS treatment. Greater protection was noted with longer duration of treatment. Tumor seeding into blood was examined with green fluorescent protein (GFP)-labeled tumor cells. Hirudin inhibited seeding into the blood as well as systemic organs which varied from complete protection to 15- to 32-fold in the blood and 17- to 395-fold in the lung. Hirudin inhibited spontaneous metastases from subcutaneously implanted tumor by reducing the number of tumor nodules in the lungs. Mouse survival In animals injected subcutaneously with highly aggressive 4T1 cells revealed 5 of 5 deaths of PBS-treated animals on day 40 compared with no deaths with hirudin treatment, with prolongation of survival with hirudin treatment of 16 days to more than 31 days. Thus, endogenous thrombin contributes to tumor implantation, seeding, and spontaneous metastasis. A potent antithrombin agent should be of clinical benefit to patients with cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2746-2751
Number of pages6
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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