The role of extracellular vesicles and PD-L1 in glioblastoma-mediated immunosuppressive monocyte induction

Neuro Oncol. 2020 Jul 7;22(7):967-978. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/noaa029.


Background: Immunosuppression in glioblastoma (GBM) is an obstacle to effective immunotherapy. GBM-derived immunosuppressive monocytes are central to this. Programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) is an immune checkpoint molecule, expressed by GBM cells and GBM extracellular vesicles (EVs). We sought to determine the role of EV-associated PD-L1 in the formation of immunosuppressive monocytes.

Methods: Monocytes collected from healthy donors were conditioned with GBM-derived EVs to induce the formation of immunosuppressive monocytes, which were quantified via flow cytometry. Donor-matched T cells were subsequently co-cultured with EV-conditioned monocytes in order to assess effects on T-cell proliferation. PD-L1 constitutive overexpression or short hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown was used to determined the role of altered PD-L1 expression.

Results: GBM EVs interact with both T cells and monocytes but do not directly inhibit T-cell activation. However, GBM EVs induce immunosuppressive monocytes, including myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and nonclassical monocytes (NCMs). MDSCs and NCMs inhibit T-cell proliferation in vitro and are found within GBM in situ. EV PD-L1 expression induces NCMs but not MDSCs, and does not affect EV-conditioned monocytes T-cell inhibition.

Conclusion: These findings indicate that GBM EV-mediated immunosuppression occurs through induction of immunosuppressive monocytes rather than direct T-cell inhibition and that, while PD-L1 expression is important for the induction of specific immunosuppressive monocyte populations, immunosuppressive signaling mechanisms through EVs are complex and not limited to PD-L1.

Keywords: extracellular vesicles; glioblastoma; immunosuppression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • Extracellular Vesicles*
  • Glioblastoma*
  • Humans
  • Monocytes
  • Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells*


  • B7-H1 Antigen