In the current study, we analysed the role and prognostic value of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). The frequency of circulating monocytic MDSC (M-MDSC; defined as CD14+CD11b+CD15-HLA-DR-/low cells) was assessed in correlation with clinical and laboratory parameters characterising the disease activity and patient immune status. Samples of peripheral blood from untreated CLL patients and healthy volunteers were stained with monoclonal antibodies for flow cytometry analysis. CLL patients with M-MDSC percentages above 9.35% (according to the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis) had a shorter time-to-treatment and shorter survival time than the group with a lower percentage of M-MDSC. The M-MDSC percentage was higher in patients with adverse prognostic factors (i.e., 17p and 11q deletion and CD38 and ZAP-70 expression). A high M-MDSC percentage was linked to significantly lower expression of the CD3ζ in T cells. Furthermore, an analysis of immune regulatory molecules (arginase 1 (ARG1), nitric oxide synthase (NOS2), indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β), and interleukin (IL)-10) was performed. By the means of flow cytometry and RT-qPCR, we showed an overexpression of three of them in M-MDSC of CLL patients. M-MDSC cells seem to be an important factor in the immunosuppressive microenvironment of CLL and seem to be a good and novel prognostic factor.
Keywords: ARG1; CD3ζ; CLL; IDO; IL-10; M-MDSC; NOS2; TGF-β.