Circulating myeloid-derived suppressor cell (MDSC) subsets in patients with colorectal cancer: exploratory analysis of their biomarker potential

Lenka Zdražilová-Dubská



Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) contribute to tumour escape from host immune surveillance and to tumour progression by producing tumour-promoting factors. We focused on clinical and analytical MDSCs-related issues as potential biomarkers and immune regulators involved in tumour progression.

Patients and Methods:

We analyzed 10 patients with advanced colorectal carcinoma (CRC) with (M1 subgroup) or without (M0 subgroup) distant metastases at diagnosis. Peripheral blood was collected at diagnosis prior to treatment and subsequently 12 months after therapy initiation. Using multicolour flow cytometry MDSC subsets were evaluated. Monocytic MDSCs (M-MDSCs) were detected as CD45+ CD11b+ CD33+ HLA-DRlow/ CD14+ CD15-, granulocytic MDSCs (CD33hi PMN-MDSC) were detected as CD45+ CD11b+ CD33hi HLA-DRlow/− CD14- CD15+. For analytical and preanalytical studies random fresh blood specimens predominantly from cancer patients were analyzed.


Levels of circulating M-MDSCs were not associated with metastatic disease within advanced CRC patients. Levels of circulating CD33hi PMN-MDSCs were elevated in patients with distant metastases compared to T3 M0 subgroup. Circulating M-MDSCs increased upon treatment initiation in 9 out of 10 patients. CD33hi PMN-MDSCs substantially dropped upon treatment initiation in 5 out of 10 patients and substantially increased in 2 out of 10 patients.

Analytical part showed that absolute and relative counts within each MDSC subset are correlated. Coefficient of variation (CV) for repeatability was 6-11 % for M-MDSCs and 25-44 % for CD33hi PMN-MDSCs. CV for reproducibility was higher with 8-22 % for M-MDSCs and 35-79 % for CD33hi PMN-MDSCs demonstrating that delay in measurement of MDSCs in whole blood specimen may distort quantification of circulating MDSC subsets.


The quantification of MDSC subsets is substantially dependent on the type of specimen examined and its preanalytical processing. Exploratory analysis of M-MDSCs and CD33hi PMN-MDSCs in colorectal carcinoma patients revealed different dynamics of M-MDSC and CD33hi PMN-MDSC subsets in the context anti-cancer treatment.

Klíčová slova

myeloid-derived suppressor cells, preanalytics, colorectal cancer

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