Breast Cancer

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 241–246 | Cite as

The thrombin inhibitor, argatroban, inhibits breast cancer metastasis to bone

  • Kunihiro AsanumaEmail author
  • Hiroki Wakabayashi
  • Takayuki Okamoto
  • Yumiko Asanuma
  • Nobuyuki Akita
  • Tomoaki Yoshikawa
  • Tatsuya Hayashi
  • Akihiko Matsumine
  • Atsumasa Uchida
  • Akihiro Sudo
Original Article



Breast cancer has the potential to metastasize to bone, causing debilitating symptoms. Although many tumor cells have thrombin-generating systems originating from tissue factor (TF), therapy in terms of the coagulation system is not well established. To elucidate the efficacy of the thrombin inhibitor, argatroban, on bone metastasis, we investigated TF activation and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) secretion on treatment with thrombin and argatroban.


MDA-231 breast cancer cells were treated with thrombin in presence or absence of argatroban, and TF activity was measured in the form of activated factor X. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to measure VEGF concentrations in the medium. MDA-231 cells were injected into the left heart ventricle of mice, and then argatroban or saline was administered intraperitoneally for 28 days. After 28 days, incidence of bone metastasis was evaluated in the limbs by radiography.


TF activity and VEGF secretion were upregulated by thrombin. Argatroban inhibited the enhancement of TF activity and VEGF secretion induced by thrombin. In vivo analysis revealed that the number of metastasized limbs in the argatroban group was significantly lower compared with the saline group (P < 0.05).


Thrombin not only enhances VEGF secretion but also has a positive feedback mechanism to reexpress TF. These results indicate that inhibition of thrombin is of great value in suppression of tumor metastasis. Argatroban is a noteworthy and useful thrombin inhibitor because it has already been used in the clinical setting and has antimetastatic effects in vivo.


Breast cancer Thrombin Thrombin inhibitor Argatroban Bone metastasis 


Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Breast Cancer Society 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kunihiro Asanuma
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hiroki Wakabayashi
    • 1
  • Takayuki Okamoto
    • 2
  • Yumiko Asanuma
    • 1
  • Nobuyuki Akita
    • 2
  • Tomoaki Yoshikawa
    • 1
  • Tatsuya Hayashi
    • 2
  • Akihiko Matsumine
    • 1
  • Atsumasa Uchida
    • 1
  • Akihiro Sudo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Orthopedic SurgeryMie University School of MedicineTsuJapan
  2. 2.Department of Molecular PathobiologyMie University School of MedicineTsuJapan

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