Short-course preoperative radiotherapy (SC-RT) followed by total mesorectal excision (TME) is one therapeutic option for locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC) patients. Since radio-induced DNA damage may affect tumor immunogenicity, Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and T regulatory cells (Tregs) were evaluated in 13 patients undergoing SC-RT and TME for LARC. Peripheral Granulocytic-MDSCs (G-MDSC) [LIN-/HLA-DR-/CD11b+/CD14-/CD15+/CD33+], Monocytic (M-MDSC) [CD14+/HLA-DR-/lowCD11b+/CD33+] and Tregs [CD4+/CD25hi+/FOXP3+- CTLA-4/PD1] basal value was significantly higher in LARC patients compared to healthy donors (HD). Peripheral MDSC and Tregs were evaluated at time 0 (T0), after 2 and 5 weeks (T2-T5) from radiotherapy; before surgery (T8) and 6-12 months after surgery (T9, T10). G-MDSC decreased at T5 and further at T8 while M-MDSC cells decreased at T5; Tregs reached the lowest value at T5. LARC poor responder patients displayed a major decrease in M-MDSC after SC-RT and an increase of Treg-PD-1. In this pilot study MDSCs and Tregs decrease during the SC-RT treatment could represent a biomarker of response in LARC patients. Further studies are needed to confirm that the deepest M-MDSC reduction and increase in Treg-PD1 cells within 5-8 weeks from the beginning of treatment could discriminate LARC patients poor responding to SC-RT.
Keywords: MDSC; Treg; radiotherapy; rectal cancer.