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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2018 May 21. doi: 10.1007/s00262-018-2170-8. [Epub ahead of print]

How to measure the immunosuppressive activity of MDSC: assays, problems and potential solutions.

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de Duve Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Avenue Hippocrate 74, 1200, Brussels, Belgium.
Institute of Immunology, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany and Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany.
Department of Basic Oncology, Hacettepe University Cancer Institute, Ankara, Turkey.
Institute of Immunology, University of Münster, Münster, Germany.
Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Immunology, Institute of Molecular Genetics AS CR, Videnska 1083, 142 20, Prague 4, Czech Republic.
Institute of Experimental Pharmacology and Toxicology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dubravska cesta 9, 841 04, Bratislava, Slovak Republic.
Molecular Oncology group, Institute for Medical Research, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Republic of Serbia.
Centro Integrativo de Biología y Química Aplicada (CIBQA), Universidad Bernardo O'Higgins, Santiago, Chile.
Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal.
Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal.
Cellular and Molecular Immunology Lab, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.
Myeloid Cell Immunology Lab, VIB Center for Inflammation Research, Brussels, Belgium.
Research Division, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, West German Cancer Center, University Hospital Essen, Hufelandstrasse 55, 45122, Essen, Germany.


Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) are a heterogeneous group of mononuclear and polymorphonuclear myeloid cells, which are present at very low numbers in healthy subjects, but can expand substantially under disease conditions. Depending on disease type and stage, MDSC comprise varying amounts of immature and mature differentiation stages of myeloid cells. Validated unique phenotypic markers for MDSC are still lacking. Therefore, the functional analysis of these cells is of central importance for their identification and characterization. Various disease-promoting and immunosuppressive functions of MDSC are reported in the literature. Among those, the capacity to modulate the activity of T cells is by far the most often used and best-established read-out system. In this review, we critically evaluate the assays available for the functional analysis of human and murine MDSC under in vitro and in vivo conditions. We also discuss critical issues and controls associated with those assays. We aim at providing suggestions and recommendations useful for the contemporary biological characterization of MDSC.


Arginase; Immunosuppression; Mye-EUNITER; Myeloid-derived suppressor cells; Proliferation; T cells


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