The CD14+HLA-DrlO/NEG monocyte: An immunosuppressive phenotype that restrains responses to cancer immunotherapy

April E. Mengos, Dennis A. Gastineau, Michael P. Gustafson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Recent successes in cancer immunotherapy have been tempered by suboptimal clinical responses in the majority of patients. The impaired anti-tumor immune responses observed in these patients are likely a consequence of immune system dysfunction contributed to by a variety of factors that include, but are not limited to, diminished antigen presentation/detection, leukopenia, a coordinated network of immunosuppressive cell surface proteins, cytokines and cellular mediators. Monocytes that have diminished or no HLA-DR expression, called CD14+HLA-DRlo/neg monocytes, have emerged as important mediators of tumor-induced immunosuppression. These cells have been grouped into a larger class of suppressive cells called myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and are commonly referred to as monocytic myeloid derived suppressor cells. CD14+HLA-DRlo/neg monocytes were first characterized in patients with sepsis and were shown to regulate the transition from the inflammatory state to immune suppression, ultimately leading to immune paralysis. These immunosuppressive monocytes have also recently been shown to negatively affect responses to PD-1 and CTLA-4 checkpoint inhibition, CAR-T cell therapy, cancer vaccines, and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Ultimately, the goal is to understand the role of these cells in the context of immunosuppression not only to facilitate the development of targeted therapies to circumvent their effects, but also to potentially use them as a biomarker for understanding disparate responses to immunotherapeutic regimens. Practical aspects to be explored for development of CD14+HLA-DRlo/neg monocyte detection in patients are the standardization of flow cytometric gating methods to assess HLADR expression, an appropriate quantitation method, test sample type, and processing guidances. Once detection methods are established that yield consistently reproducible results, then further progress can be made toward understanding the role of CD14+HLA-DRlo/neg monocytes in the immunosuppressive state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1147
JournalFrontiers in immunology
Issue numberMAY
StatePublished - 2019


  • Biomarker
  • Cancer
  • Immunosuppression
  • Immunotherapy
  • MDSCs
  • Monocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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