Trousseau described spontaneous, recurrent superficial migratory thrombophlebitis associated with occult cancers, and this was later correlated with disseminated microangiopathy (platelet-rich clots in small blood vessels). Trousseau syndrome often occurs with mucinous adenocarcinomas, which secrete abnormally glycosylated mucins and mucin fragments into the bloodstream. Since carcinoma mucins can have binding sites for selectins, we hypothesized that selectin-mucin interactions might trigger this syndrome. When highly purified, tissue-factor free carcinoma mucin preparations were intravenously injected into mice, platelet-rich microthrombi were rapidly generated. This pathology was markedly diminished in P- or L-selectin–deficient mice. Heparin (an antithrombin-potentiating agent that can also block P- and L-selectin recognition of ligands) ameliorated this platelet aggregation, but had no additional effect in P- or L-selectin–deficient mice. Inhibition of endogenous thrombin by recombinant hirudin also did not block platelet aggregation. Mucins generated platelet aggregation in vitro in hirudinized whole blood, but not in platelet-rich leukocyte-free plasma nor in whole blood from L-selectin–deficient mice. Thus, Trousseau syndrome is likely triggered by interactions of circulating carcinoma mucins with leukocyte L-selectin and platelet P-selectin without requiring accompanying thrombin generation. These data may also explain why heparin ameliorates Trousseau syndrome, while vitamin K antagonists that merely depress thrombin production do not.
Mark Wahrenbrock, Lubor Borsig, Dzung Le, Nissi Varki, Ajit Varki
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.