The receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, sunitinib, is astonishingly effective in its capacity to reduce MDSCs in peripheral tissues such as blood (human) and spleen (mouse), restoring responsiveness of bystander T lymphocytes to TcR stimulation. Sunitinib blocks proliferation of undifferentiated MDSCs and decreases survival of more differentiated neutrophilic MDSC (n-MDSC) progeny. Ironically, sunitinib's profound effects are observed even in a total absence of detectable anti-tumor therapeutic response. This is best explained by the presence of disparate MDSC-conditioning stimuli within individual body compartments, allowing sensitivity and resistance to sunitinib to coexist within the same mouse or patient. The presence or absence of GM-CSF is likely the major determinant in each compartment, given that GM-CSF's capacity to preempt STAT3-dependent with dominant STAT5-dependent hematopoietic programming confers sunitinib resistance and redirects differentiation from the n-MDSC lineage to the more versatile monocytoid (m-MDSC) lineage. The clinical sunitinib experience underscores that strategies for MDSC and Treg depletions must be mindful of disparities among body compartments to avoid sanctuary effects. Ironically, m-MDSCs manifesting resistance to sunitinib also have the greatest potential to differentiate into tumoricidal accessory cells, by virtue of their capacity to respond to T cell-secreted IFN-γ or to TLR agonists with nitric oxide and peroxynitrate production.
- Myeloid-derived suppressor cells
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