Myeloid derived suppressor cells in human diseases

Int Immunopharmacol. 2011 Jul;11(7):802-7. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2011.01.003. Epub 2011 Jan 13.


Myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSC) have been described as a heterogeneous cell population with potent immune suppressor function in mice. Limited data are available on MDSC in human diseases. Interpretation of these data is complicated by the fact that different markers have been used to analyze human MDSC subtypes in various clinical settings. Human MDSC are CD11b+, CD33+, HLA-DR(neg/low) and can be divided into granulocytic CD14⁻ and monocytic CD14+ subtypes. Interleukin 4Rα, VEGFR, CD15 and CD66b have been suggested to be more specific markers for human MDSC, however these markers can only be found on some MDSC subsets. Until today the best marker for human MDSC remains their suppressor function, which can be either direct or indirect through the induction of regulatory T cells. Immune suppressor activity has been associated with high arginase 1 and iNOS activity as well as ROS production by MDSC. Not only in murine models, but even more importantly in patients with cancer, different drugs have been shown to either reverse the immune suppressor function of MDSC or directly target these cells. Systemic treatment with all-trans-retinoic acid has been shown to mature human MDSC and reverse their immune suppressor function. Alternatively, MDSC can be targeted by treatment with the multi-targeted receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor sunitinib. This review will provide a comprehensive summary of the recent literature on human MDSC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression
  • Indoles / therapeutic use
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Mice
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Myeloid Cells / drug effects
  • Myeloid Cells / immunology*
  • Myelopoiesis / drug effects
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pyrroles / therapeutic use
  • Sunitinib
  • Tretinoin / therapeutic use


  • Biomarkers
  • Indoles
  • Pyrroles
  • Tretinoin
  • Sunitinib