Ticagrelor inhibits platelet–tumor cell interactions and metastasis in human and murine breast cancer

Alison J. Gareau, Colin Brien, Simon Gebremeskel, Robert S. Liwski, Brent Johnston, Michael Bezuhly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Activated platelets promote the proliferation and metastatic potential of cancer cells. Platelet activation is largely mediated through ADP engagement of purinergic P2Y12 receptors on platelets. We examined the potential of the reversible P2Y12 inhibitor ticagrelor, an agent used clinically to prevent cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events, to reduce tumor growth and metastasis. In vitro, MCF-7, MDA-MB-468, and MDA-MB-231 human mammary carcinoma cells exhibited decreased interaction with platelets treated with ticagrelor compared to untreated platelets. Prevention of tumor cell–platelet interactions through pretreatment of platelets with ticagrelor did not improve natural killer cell-mediated tumor cell killing of K562 myelogenous leukemia target cells. Additionally, ticagrelor had no effect on proliferation of 4T1 mouse mammary carcinoma cells co-cultured with platelets, or on primary 4T1 tumor growth. In an orthotopic 4T1 breast cancer model, ticagrelor (10 mg/kg), but not clopidogrel (10 mg/kg) or saline, resulted in reduced metastasis and improved survival. Ticagrelor treatment was associated with a marked reduction in tumor cell–platelet aggregates in the lungs at 10, 30 and 60 min post-intravenous inoculation. These findings suggest a role for P2Y12-mediated platelet activation in promoting metastasis, and provide support for the use of ticagrelor in the prevention of breast cancer spread.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-35
Number of pages11
JournalClinical and Experimental Metastasis
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Metastasis
  • Natural killer cells
  • P2Y12
  • Platelets
  • Ticagrelor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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