The impact of microRNAs on myeloid-derived suppressor cells in cancer

Hum Immunol. 2021 Sep;82(9):668-678. doi: 10.1016/j.humimm.2021.04.009. Epub 2021 May 18.


Inflammation promotes cancer development. To a large extent, this can be attributed to the recruitment of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) to tumors. These cells are known for establishing an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment by suppressing T cell activities. However, MDSCs also promote metastasis and angiogenesis. Critically, as small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression, microRNAs (miRNAs) control MDSC activities. In this review, we discuss how miRNA networks regulate key MDSC signaling pathways, how they shape MDSC development, differentiation and activation, and how this impacts tumor development. By targeting the expression of miRNAs in MDSCs, we can alter their main signaling pathways. In turn, this can compromise their ability to promote multiple hallmarks of cancer. Therefore, this may represent a new powerful strategy for cancer immunotherapy.

Keywords: Cancer; MDSC; Signaling pathways; miRNA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Communication
  • Disease Management
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells / immunology*
  • Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology


  • Biomarkers
  • MicroRNAs