Modulation of T-cell function by myeloid-derived suppressor cells in hematological malignancies

Vaishali Bhardwaj, Stephen M. Ansell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are pathologically activated neutrophils and monocytes that negatively regulate the immune response to cancer and chronic infections. Abnormal myelopoiesis and pathological activation of myeloid cells generate this heterogeneous population of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. They are characterized by their distinct transcription, phenotypic, biochemical, and functional features. In the tumor microenvironment (TME), myeloid-derived suppressor cells represent an important class of immunosuppressive cells that correlate with tumor burden, stage, and a poor prognosis. Myeloid-derived suppressor cells exert a strong immunosuppressive effect on T-cells (and a broad range of other immune cells), by blocking lymphocyte homing, increasing production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, promoting secretion of various cytokines, chemokines, and immune regulatory molecules, stimulation of other immunosuppressive cells, depletion of various metabolites, and upregulation of immune checkpoint molecules. Additionally, the heterogeneity of myeloid-derived suppressor cells in cancer makes their identification challenging. Overall, they serve as a major obstacle for many cancer immunotherapies and targeting them could be a favorable strategy to improve the effectiveness of immunotherapeutic interventions. However, in hematological malignancies, particularly B-cell malignancies, the clinical outcomes of targeting these myeloid-derived suppressor cells is a field that is still to be explored. This review summarizes the complex biology of myeloid-derived suppressor cells with an emphasis on the immunosuppressive pathways used by myeloid-derived suppressor cells to modulate T-cell function in hematological malignancies. In addition, we describe the challenges, therapeutic strategies, and clinical relevance of targeting myeloid-derived suppressor cells in these diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1129343
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - 2023


  • hematological malignancies
  • immunosuppression
  • myeloid-derived suppressor cells
  • t cells
  • tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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