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Cancer Res. 2010 Apr 15;70(8):3052-61. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-3690. Epub 2010 Apr 13.

5-Fluorouracil selectively kills tumor-associated myeloid-derived suppressor cells resulting in enhanced T cell-dependent antitumor immunity.

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INSERM Research Center 866, AVENIR Team, Faculty of Medicine, University of Burgundy, Anti-Cancer Center, Georges François Leclerc, Dijon, France.


Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) accumulate in the spleen and tumor bed during tumor growth. They contribute to the immune tolerance of cancer notably by inhibiting the function of CD8(+) T cells. Thus, their elimination may hamper tumor growth by enhancing antitumor T-cell functions. We have previously reported that some anticancer agents relied on T cell-dependent anticancer responses to achieve maximal efficacy. However, the effect of anticancer agents on MDSC has remained largely unexplored. In this study, we observed that gemcitabine and 5-fluorouracil (5FU) were selectively cytotoxic on MDSC. In vivo, the treatment of tumor-bearing mice with 5FU led to a major decrease in the number of MDSC in the spleens and tumor beds of animals whereas no significant effect on T cells, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, or B cells was noted. Interestingly, 5FU showed a stronger efficacy over gemcitabine to deplete MDSC and selectively induced MDSC apoptotic cell death in vitro and in vivo. The elimination of MDSC by 5FU increased IFN-gamma production by tumor-specific CD8(+) T cells infiltrating the tumor and promoted T cell-dependent antitumor responses in vivo. Altogether, these findings suggest that the antitumor effect of 5FU is mediated, at least in part, by its selective cytotoxic action on MDSC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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