Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are highly immunosuppressive myeloid cells, which increase in cancer patients. The molecular mechanism behind their generation and function is unclear. Whereas granulocytic-MDSCs correlate with poor overall survival in breast cancer, the presence and relevance of monocytic-MDSCs (Mo-MDSCs) is unknown. Here we report for the first time an enrichment of functional blood Mo-MDSCs in breast cancer patients before they acquire a typical Mo-MDSC surface phenotype. A clear population of Mo-MDSCs with the typical cell surface phenotype (CD14+HLA-DRlow/-CD86low/-CD80low/-CD163low/-) increased significantly first during disease progression and correlated to metastasis to lymph nodes and visceral organs. Furthermore, monocytes, comprising the Mo-MDSC population, from patients with metastatic breast cancer resemble the reprogrammed immunosuppressive monocytes in patients with severe infections, both by their surface and functional phenotype but also at their molecular gene expression profile. Our data suggest that monitoring the Mo-MDSC levels in breast cancer patients may represent a novel and simple biomarker for assessing disease progression.
- Cancer och onkologi