Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are a heterogeneous population with the ability to suppress immune responses and are currently classified into three distinct MDSC subsets: monocytic, granulocytic and non-monocytic, and non-granulocytic MDSCs. Although NK cells provide an important first-line defense against newly transformed cancer cells, it is unknown whether NK cells can regulate MDSC populations in the context of cancer. In this study, we initially found that the frequency of MDSCs in non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) patients was increased and inversely correlated with that of NK cells, but not that of T cells. To investigate the regulation of MDSC subsets by NK cells, we used an EL4 murine lymphoma model and found the non-monocytic and non-granulocytic MDSC subset, i.e., Gr1+CD11b+Ly6GmedLy6Cmed MDSC, is increased after NK cell depletion. The MDSC population that expresses MHC class II, CD80, CD124, and CCR2 is regulated mainly by CD27+CD11b+NK cells. In addition, this MDSC subset produces some immunosuppressive cytokines, including IL-10 but not nitric oxide (NO) or arginase. We also examined two subsets of MDSCs (CD14+HLA-DR- and CD14- HLA-DR- MDSC) in NHL patients and found that higher IL-10-producing CD14+HLA-DR-MDSC subset can be seen in lymphoma patients with reduced NK cell frequency in peripheral blood. Our analyses of MDSCs in this study may enable a better understanding of how MDSCs manipulate the tumor microenvironment and are regulated by NK cells in patients with lymphoma.
Keywords: DFS; GM-CSF, granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor; HLA, Human Leukocyte Antigen; IL, interleukin; IL-10; LPS, Lipopolysaccharide; MDSC; MDSC, myeloid-derived suppressor cell; NHL, non-Hodgkin lymphoma; NK cells; NK, Natural killer cells; OS, overall survival; PBMC, peripheral blood mononucleated cell; TGFβ, transforming growth factor β; TNFα, tumor necrosis factor α; VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor; disease-free survival; immunoregulation; malignant lymphoma.