Tumour cell u-PA as a cause of fibrinolytic bleeding in metastatic disease


Dr B. Bennett Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Medical School, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD.


Tumour cells may express urokinase type plasminogen activator (u-PA). This may influence the invasive properties of the cells but has seldom been implicated in production of a systemic bleeding state. Two patients are described in whom severe bleeding occurred in association with disseminated malignancies. Thrombin generation was little disturbed and platelet numbers were insufficient to account for the bleeding. Florid plasmin generation was evident in the circulation and the fibrinolytic inhibitor tranexamic acid controlled the bleeding well. Free active u-PA was demonstrated in the circulation and u-PA antigen on the malignant cells which invaded the marrow of one of the patients. Tumour cell u-PA may occasionally be responsible for a bleeding state.