Aging has become a significant risk factor for several diseases, including breast cancer.

Platelet activation and platelet-cancer cell aggregate fractions were found to increase with tumor progression in a mouse model of breast cancer. At advanced stages of tumor development, platelets from mice with breast cancer were hyperreactive to low agonist concentrations and hyporeactive to high ones. Platelet activation and reactivity were strongly associated with breast cancer metastasis in the lungs and extramedullary hematopoiesis in the liver. A greater fraction of platelet aggregates was observed in 4T1-injected mice at the advanced stages of breast cancer. In vitro, platelet activation was elevated after incubation with 4T1 cells, and thrombin-stimulated platelets formed aggregates with 4T1 cells. Neither GPIbα, nor GPIIb/IIIa blocking antibodies, were able to affect platelet-cancer cell aggregation in vitro.

The primed circulating platelets became more sensitive to subthreshold stimuli at advanced stages of tumor development, and the formation of platelet-cancer cell aggregates increased with cancer progression. Our findings demonstrate that the age-associated progression of breast cancer cells is connected with increased platelet functioning, and that it can be manifested by the increased number of metastases and extramedullary hematopoiesis in a time-dependent-manner.