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PLoS One. 2017 Jan 20;12(1):e0169932. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169932. eCollection 2017.

Systemic T Cells Immunosuppression of Glioma Stem Cell-Derived Exosomes Is Mediated by Monocytic Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells.

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Department of Medical and Biological Sciences, University of Udine, Udine, Italy.
Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital of Udine, Udine, Italy.


A major contributing factor to glioma development and progression is its ability to evade the immune system. Nano-meter sized vesicles, exosomes, secreted by glioma-stem cells (GSC) can act as mediators of intercellular communication to promote tumor immune escape. Here, we investigated the immunomodulatory properties of GCS-derived exosomes on different peripheral immune cell populations. Healthy donor peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) stimulated with anti-CD3, anti-CD28 and IL-2, were treated with GSC-derived exosomes. Phenotypic characterization, cell proliferation, Th1/Th2 cytokine secretion and intracellular cytokine production were analysed by distinguishing among effector T cells, regulatory T cells and monocytes. In unfractionated PBMCs, GSC-derived exosomes inhibited T cell activation (CD25 and CD69 expression), proliferation and Th1 cytokine production, and did not affect cell viability or regulatory T-cell suppression ability. Furthermore, exosomes were able to enhance proliferation of purified CD4+ T cells. In PBMCs culture, glioma-derived exosomes directly promoted IL-10 and arginase-1 production and downregulation of HLA-DR by unstimulated CD14+ monocytic cells, that displayed an immunophenotype resembling that of monocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells (Mo-MDSCs). Importantly, the removal of CD14+ monocytic cell fraction from PBMCs restored T-cell proliferation. The same results were observed with exosomes purified from plasma of glioblastoma patients. Our results indicate that glioma-derived exosomes suppress T-cell immune response by acting on monocyte maturation rather than on direct interaction with T cells. Selective targeting of Mo-MDSC to treat glioma should be considered with regard to how immune cells allow the acquirement of effector functions and therefore counteracting tumor progression.

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