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Keywords:

  • CD8+ T-cell activation;
  • CD8+ T-cell suppression;
  • Monocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cell (MO-MDSC);
  • Nitric oxide;
  • Polymorphonuclear MDSC (PMN-MDSC)

Tumor growth coincides with an accumulation of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), which exert immune suppression and which consist of two main subpopulations, known as monocytic (MO) CD11b+CD115+Ly6GLy6Chigh MDSCs and granulocytic CD11b+CD115Ly6G+Ly6Cint polymorphonuclear (PMN)-MDSCs. However, whether these distinct MDSC subsets hamper all aspects of early CD8+ T-cell activation — including cytokine production, surface marker expression, survival, and cytotoxicity — is currently unclear. Here, employing an in vitro coculture system, we demonstrate that splenic MDSC subsets suppress antigen-driven CD8+ T-cell proliferation, but differ in their dependency on IFN-γ, STAT-1, IRF-1, and NO to do so. Moreover, MO-MDSC and PMN-MDSCs diminish IL-2 levels, but only MO-MDSCs affect IL-2Rα (CD25) expression and STAT-5 signaling. Unexpectedly, however, both MDSC populations stimulate IFN-γ production by CD8+ T cells on a per cell basis, illustrating that some T-cell activation characteristics are actually stimulated by MDSCs. Conversely, MO-MDSCs counteract the activation-induced change in CD44, CD62L, CD162, and granzyme B expression, while promoting CD69 and Fas upregulation. Together, these effects result in an altered CD8+ T-cell adhesiveness to the extracellular matrix and selectins, sensitivity to FasL-mediated apoptosis, and cytotoxicity. Hence, MDSCs intricately influence different CD8+ T-cell activation events in vitro, whereby some parameters are suppressed while others are stimulated.