Author(s): Hoechst B, Ormandy LA, Ballmaier M, Lehner F, Krger C,
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Abstract BACKGROUND & AIMS: Several studies have shown that development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) generates a number of immune suppressive mechanisms in these patients. Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) are a heterogeneous population of cells that have been shown to inhibit T-cell responses in tumor-bearing mice, but little is known about these cells in humans owing to a lack of specific markers. In this study, we have investigated the frequency and function of a new population of MDSC denoted here as CD14(+)HLA-DR(-/low) in HCC patients. We have also identified a novel, MDSC-mediated immune regulatory pathway in these patients. METHODS: We have directly isolated and characterized MDSCs for phenotype and function from peripheral blood (n = 111) and tumor (n = 12) of patients with HCC. RESULTS: The frequency of CD14(+)HLA-DR(-/low) cells in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from HCC patients was significantly increased in comparison with healthy controls. CD14(+) HLA-DR(-/low) cells were unable to stimulate an allogeneic T-cell response, suppressed autologous T-cell proliferation, and had high arginase activity, a hallmark characteristic of MDSC. Most important, CD14(+)HLA-DR(-/low) cells from HCC patients induced a CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T-cell population when cocultured with autologous T cells. CONCLUSION: CD14(+)HLA-DR(-/low) cells are a new population of MDSC increased in blood and tumor of HCC patients. We propose a new mechanism by which MDSC exert their immunosuppressive function, through the induction of CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells in cocultured CD4(+) T cells. Understanding the mechanism of action of MDSC in HCC patients is important in the design of effective immunotherapeutic protocols.
This article was published in Gastroenterology
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology