Deciphering myeloid-derived suppressor cells: isolation and markers in humans, mice and non-human primates

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2019 Apr;68(4):687-697. doi: 10.1007/s00262-019-02302-2. Epub 2019 Jan 25.


In cancer, infection and inflammation, the immune system's function can be dysregulated. Instead of fighting disease, immune cells may increase pathology and suppress host-protective immune responses. Myeloid cells show high plasticity and adapt to changing conditions and pathological challenges. Despite their relevance in disease pathophysiology, the identity, heterogeneity and biology of myeloid cells is still poorly understood. We will focus on phenotypical and functional markers of one of the key myeloid regulatory subtypes, the myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSC), in humans, mice and non-human primates. Technical issues regarding the isolation of the cells from tissues and blood, timing and sample handling of MDSC will be detailed. Localization of MDSC in a tissue context is of crucial importance and immunohistochemistry approaches for this purpose are discussed. A minimal antibody panel for MDSC research is provided as part of the Mye-EUNITER COST action. Strategies for the identification of additional markers applying state of the art technologies such as mass cytometry will be highlighted. Such marker sets can be used to study MDSC phenotypes across tissues, diseases as well as species and will be crucial to accelerate MDSC research in health and disease.

Keywords: Human; Mouse; Mye-EUNITER; Myeloid-derived suppressor cells; Non-human primates.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Separation / methods
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping / methods
  • Mice
  • Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells / immunology*
  • Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells / metabolism*
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Primates


  • Biomarkers