Microvesicles (MV) are since quite recently recognized as forming a unique network between cells. These very little fragments (<1 µm size) are actively released from their parent cells and are able to transfer both cellular and nuclear material. Although active debate remains on how to best detect MV, rendering some results questionable, high MV levels have been reported in aggressive tumours and have been correlated with a poor clinical outcome. Some tumour cell derived MV exhibit strong tissue factor dependent procoagulant activity. Their detection could actually predict the thrombotic risk in selected cancer patients. A growing body of evidence suggests cell microvesicles to be a major link between cancer and thrombosis. Current knowledge on MV in cancer will be reviewed here.
(BELG J HEMATOL 2013;1:3–8)