Objective: Platelet activation and adhesion to cancer cells increase the release of multiple factors that contribute to EMT and chemoresistance. Elevated levels of D-dimer have been associated with poor clinical outcomes in lung cancer. Platelets in high D-dimer plasma may be activated and implicated in acquired resistance to EGFR TKI in advanced lung adenocarcinoma with mutant EGFR. Materials and Methods: Clinical responsive rate (RR), progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS) were prospectively measured in treatment-naïve lung adenocarcinoma patients with activation mutation. Plasma or platelets from patients with high or low D-dimer level were obtained to investigate the cytotoxic effects of TKIs on mutant cancer cells, and the mechanistic pathways were also explored. Results: Patients with high D-dimer had worse RR, PFS, and OS. High D-dimer plasma induced resistance to gefitinib, erlotinib, afatinib, or osimertinib in EGFR mutant lung cancer cells. Depletion of platelets in high D-dimer plasma reversed the resistance to TKI. Platelets of high D-dimer plasma had higher adherence capacity to cancer cells, and induced EGFR and Akt activation as well as EMT through Src activation. Inhibition of platelet adherence or activation of Src or Akt conquered the resistance to TKI. The acquired resistance to TKI by high D-dimer plasma was less attributed to secondary gene mutation. Conclusion: Increased platelet activation in the high D-dimer plasma may contribute to first-line acquired EGFR TKI resistance. Thus, therapeutic strategy against platelet activation in patients with high D-dimer levels may improve the efficacy of first-line treatment with EGFR TKI.
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