Platelets and tumor-associated RNA transfer.

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Until recently the nucleic acid content of platelets was considered to be fully determined by their progenitor megakaryocyte. However, it is now well understood that additional mediators (e.g. cancer cells) can intervene, thereby influencing the RNA repertoire of platelets. Platelets are highly dynamic cells, able to communicate and influence their environment. For instance, platelets have been involved in various steps of cancer development and progression by supporting tumor growth, survival and dissemination. Cancer cells can directly and/or indirectly influence the platelet RNA content, resulting in tumor-mediated ‘education’ of platelets. Alterations in the tumor-educated platelet (TEP) RNA profile have been described as a novel source of potential biomarkers. Individual platelet RNA biomarkers as well as complex RNA signatures may be used for early-detection of cancer and treatment monitoring. Here we review the RNA transfer occurring between cancer cells and platelets. We explore the potential use of platelet RNA biomarkers as a liquid biopsy biosource, and discuss methods to evaluate the transcriptomic content of platelets.

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Authors: Silvia D’Ambrosi, Jonas Nilsson, Thomas Wurdinger