Tuberculosis (TB) has tremendous public health relevance. It most frequently affects the lung and is characterized by the development of unique tissue lesions, termed granulomas. These lesions encompass various immune populations, with macrophages being most extensively investigated. Myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) have been recently identified in TB patients, both in the circulation and at the site of infection, however their interactions with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and their impact on granulomas remain undefined. We generated human monocytic MDSCs and observed that their suppressive capacities are retained upon Mtb infection. We employed an in vitro granuloma model, which mimics human TB lesions to some extent, with the aim of analyzing the roles of MDSCs within granulomas. MDSCs altered the structure of and affected bacterial containment within granuloma-like structures. These effects were partly controlled through highly abundant secreted IL-10. Compared to macrophages, MDSCs activated primarily the NF-κB and MAPK pathways and the latter largely contributed to the release of IL-10 and replication of bacteria within in vitro generated granulomas. Moreover, MDSCs upregulated PD-L1 and suppressed proliferation of lymphocytes, albeit with negligible effects on Mtb replication. Further comprehensive characterization of MDSCs in TB will contribute to a better understanding of disease pathogenesis and facilitate the design of novel immune-based interventions for this deadly infection.
Keywords: IL-10; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; PD-L1; granuloma; myeloid-derived suppressor cells; tuberculosis.