Open Access Open Badges Research article

Platelet extracts induce growth, migration and invasion in human hepatocellular carcinoma in vitro

Brian I Carr1*, Aldo Cavallini1, Rosalba D’Alessandro1, Maria Grazia Refolo1, Catia Lippolis1, Antonio Mazzocca2 and Caterina Messa1

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of biochemistry and tumor biology, National Institute for Digestive Diseases, IRCCS ‘Saverio de Bellis’, via Turi 27, 70013 Castellana Grotte, BA, Italy

2 Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, Section of Internal Medicine, University of Bari, piazza G. Cesare, 70100 Bari, Italy

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:43  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-43

Published: 27 January 2014



Thrombocytopenia has been reported to be associated with small size HCCs, and thrombocytosis to be associated with large size HCCs. The aim was to examine the effects of platelets in relation to HCC cell growth.


The effects of time-expired pooled normal human platelets were examined on human HCC cell line growth and invasion.


Blood platelet numbers increased with increasing HCC tumor size and portal vein invasion. Platelet extracts enhanced cell growth in 4 human HCC cell lines, as well as cell migration, medium AFP levels and decreased apoptosis. Cell invasion was significantly enhanced, using a Matrigel-coated trans-well membrane and3D (Real-Time Imaging) invasion assay. Western blots showed that platelets caused enhanced phospho-ERK and phospho–JNK signaling and anti-apoptotic effect with increase of Bcl-xL (anti-apoptotic marker) and decrease of Bid (pro-apoptotic marker) levels. Their growth effects were blocked by a JNK inhibitor.


Platelets stimulated growth and invasion of several HCC cell lines in vitro, suggesting that platelets or platelet growth factors could be a potential pharmacological target.

Platelets; HCC; Growth; Migration; Invasion; AFP