Tumor Biology

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 121–129 | Cite as

CD15+/CD16low human granulocytes from terminal cancer patients: granulocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells that have suppressive function

  • Jahyang Choi
  • Beomseok Suh
  • Yong-Oon Ahn
  • Tae Min Kim
  • Jeong-Ok Lee
  • Se-Hoon Lee
  • Dae Seog Heo
Research Article


Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are a subpopulation of myeloid cells with immunosuppressive function whose numbers are increased in conditions such as chronic infection, trauma, and cancer. Unlike murine MDSCs defined as CD11b+/Gr-1+, there are no specific markers for human MDSCs. The goal of this study was to delineate a specific human MDSCs subpopulation in granulocytes from terminal cancer patients and investigate its clinical implications. Here, we show that the CD15+/CD16low subset was increased in terminal cancer patients compared with healthy donors (P = 0.009). Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate-activated granulocytes (CD16low/CD66b++/CD15+) that have a phenotype similar to MDSCs from cancer patients, effectively suppressed both proliferation and cytotoxicity of normal T cells. Among cancer patients, T-cell proliferation was highly suppressed by granulocytes isolated from terminal cancer patients with a high proportion of CD15+/CD16low cells. Patients with low peripheral blood levels of CD15+/CD16low cells had significantly longer survival than those with high levels (P = 0.0011). Patients with higher levels of CD15+/CD16low also tended to have poor performance status (P = 0.05). These data suggest that CD15+/CD16low granulocytes found in terminal cancer patients may play a role in the progression of cancer by inhibiting tumor immunity.


MDSCs CD15+/CD16low granulocytes T-cell suppression Tumor immunity Immune monitoring 


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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jahyang Choi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Beomseok Suh
    • 1
  • Yong-Oon Ahn
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tae Min Kim
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jeong-Ok Lee
    • 1
    • 3
  • Se-Hoon Lee
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Dae Seog Heo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Cancer Research InstituteSeoul National University College of Medicine and HospitalSeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Innovative Research Institute for Cell TherapySeoul National University College of Medicine and HospitalSeoulSouth Korea
  3. 3.Department of Internal MedicineSeoul National University College of Medicine and HospitalSeoulSouth Korea

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