Glioblastoma Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cell Subsets Express Differential Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor Receptor Profiles That Can Be Targeted to Reduce Immune Suppression

Front Immunol. 2020 Jun 18;11:1191. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.01191. eCollection 2020.


The application of tumor immunotherapy to glioblastoma (GBM) is limited by an unprecedented degree of immune suppression due to factors that include high numbers of immune suppressive myeloid cells, the blood brain barrier, and T cell sequestration to the bone marrow. We previously identified an increase in immune suppressive myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in GBM patients, which correlated with poor prognosis and was dependent on macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF). Here we examine the MIF signaling axis in detail in murine MDSC models, GBM-educated MDSCs and human GBM. We found that the monocytic subset of MDSCs (M-MDSCs) expressed high levels of the MIF cognate receptor CD74 and was localized in the tumor microenvironment. In contrast, granulocytic MDSCs (G-MDSCs) expressed high levels of the MIF non-cognate receptor CXCR2 and showed minimal accumulation in the tumor microenvironment. Furthermore, targeting M-MDSCs with Ibudilast, a brain penetrant MIF-CD74 interaction inhibitor, reduced MDSC function and enhanced CD8 T cell activity in the tumor microenvironment. These findings demonstrate the MDSC subsets differentially express MIF receptors and may be leveraged for specific MDSC targeting.

Keywords: MDSC; MIF–macrophage migration inhibitory factor; glioma; immunesuppresion; immunetherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Glioblastoma / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Macrophage Migration-Inhibitory Factors / immunology
  • Macrophage Migration-Inhibitory Factors / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells / immunology*
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Immunologic / immunology*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism
  • Tumor Escape / drug effects
  • Tumor Escape / immunology*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / drug effects
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology


  • Macrophage Migration-Inhibitory Factors
  • Pyridines
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • macrophage migration inhibitory factor receptor
  • ibudilast