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Coumarins inhibit metastasis in a number of animal models, but the mechanism of this effect remains unclear. We have investigated the relationship between the coagulation system and metastasis using a new model system, involving i.v. injection of Mtln3 rat mammary carcinoma cells into Fischer 344 rats, and subsequent estimation of pulmonary seeding. Injection of factors II, VII, IX and X elevated the median number of surface pulmonary seedlings per animal to 182, and injection of factors II, IX and X to 181, compared with a median for control animals of 12 (P less than 0.001). Injection of factor VII alone, or of bovine serum albumin did not significantly affect pulmonary seeding. In a second experiment, arvin defibrination reduced the mean plasma fibrinogen concentration to 76.8 mg dl-1 from a control value of 228 mg dl-1. This degree of defibrination had no significant effects on pulmonary seeding, nor on the enhancing effects of factor complex injection (median numbers of seedlings per animal; control 15, arvin 21, arvin plus factors II, VII, IX and X 170, factors II, VII, IX and X only, 157). Factor complex injections did not detectably shorten thrombotest clotting times. In vitro testing suggested that Mtln3 cells contain little or no conventional factor X activating cancer procoagulant. The complex of coagulation factors II, IX and X appears to contain a component which greatly enhances metastasis in this model. This may explain the previously reported antimetastatic effect of coumarin anticoagulants, which suppress factors II, VII, IX and X. The enhancing effect of the factor complex does not appear to be altered by significant reductions in fibrin forming capacity, and defibrination itself has no effect on metastasis. These findings suggest the possibility that the effect of this factor complex on metastasis may be mediated via mechanisms other than the formation of a fibrin clot.

Original publication




Journal article


British journal of cancer

Publication Date





158 - 162


University Department of Surgery, Western Infirmary, Glasgow, UK.


Tumor Cells, Cultured, Animals, Rats, Inbred F344, Rats, Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental, Lung Neoplasms, Neoplasm Metastasis, Ancrod, Fibrinogen, Blood Coagulation Factors, Fibrin, Anticoagulants, Female