Immune suppression by neutrophils and granulocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells: similarities and differences

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2013 Oct;70(20):3813-27. doi: 10.1007/s00018-013-1286-4. Epub 2013 Feb 20.


Neutrophils are essential effector cells in the host defense against invading pathogens. Recently, novel neutrophil functions have emerged in addition to their classical anti-microbial role. One of these functions is the suppression of T cell responses. In this respect, neutrophils share similarities with granulocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells (G-MDSCs). In this review, we will discuss the similarities and differences between neutrophils and G-MDSCs. Various types of G-MDSCs have been described, ranging from immature to mature cells shaping the immune response by different immune suppressive mechanisms. However, all types of G-MDSCs share distinct features of neutrophils, such as surface markers and morphology. We propose that G-MDSCs are heterogeneous and represent novel phenotypes of neutrophils, capable of suppressing the immune response. In this review, we will attempt to clarify the differences and similarities between neutrophils and G-MDSCs and attempt to facilitate further research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Granulocytes / cytology
  • Granulocytes / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Immunological Synapses
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Neutrophil Activation
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Phenotype
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / immunology


  • Reactive Oxygen Species