Targeting Myeloid Cells in Combination Treatments for Glioma and Other Tumors

Front Immunol. 2019 Jul 23;10:1715. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01715. eCollection 2019.


Myeloid cells constitute a significant part of the immune system in the context of cancer, exhibiting both immunostimulatory effects, through their role as antigen presenting cells, and immunosuppressive effects, through their polarization to myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and tumor-associated macrophages. While they are rarely sufficient to generate potent anti-tumor effects on their own, myeloid cells have the ability to interact with a variety of immune populations to aid in mounting an appropriate anti-tumor immune response. Therefore, myeloid therapies have gained momentum as a potential adjunct to current therapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), dendritic cell vaccines, oncolytic viruses, and traditional chemoradiation to enhance therapeutic response. In this review, we outline critical pathways involved in the recruitment of the myeloid population to the tumor microenvironment and in their polarization to immunostimulatory or immunosuppressive phenotypes. We also emphasize existing strategies of modulating myeloid recruitment and polarization to improve anti-tumor immune responses. We then summarize current preclinical and clinical studies that highlight treatment outcomes of combining myeloid targeted therapies with other immune-based and traditional therapies. Despite promising results from reports of limited clinical trials thus far, there remain challenges in optimally harnessing the myeloid compartment as an adjunct to enhancing anti-tumor immune responses. Further large Phase II and ultimately Phase III clinical trials are needed to elucidate the treatment benefit of combination therapies in the fight against cancer.

Keywords: checkpoint inhibitors; chemotherapy; combination immunotherapy; glioma; myeloid therapy; myeloid-derived suppressor cells; radiation; tumor-associated macrophages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy / methods*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Glioma / immunology*
  • Glioma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Myeloid Cells* / immunology
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology