Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) dampen the immune response thorough inhibition of T cell activation and proliferation and often are expanded in pathological conditions. Here, we studied the fate of MDSCs in cancer. Unexpectedly, MDSCs had lower viability and a shorter half-life in tumor-bearing mice compared with neutrophils and monocytes. The reduction of MDSC viability was due to increased apoptosis, which was mediated by increased expression of TNF-related apoptosis-induced ligand receptors (TRAIL-Rs) in these cells. Targeting TRAIL-Rs in naive mice did not affect myeloid cell populations, but it dramatically reduced the presence of MDSCs and improved immune responses in tumor-bearing mice. Treatment of myeloid cells with proinflammatory cytokines did not affect TRAIL-R expression; however, induction of ER stress in myeloid cells recapitulated changes in TRAIL-R expression observed in tumor-bearing hosts. The ER stress response was detected in MDSCs isolated from cancer patients and tumor-bearing mice, but not in control neutrophils or monocytes, and blockade of ER stress abrogated tumor-associated changes in TRAIL-Rs. Together, these data indicate that MDSC pathophysiology is linked to ER stress, which shortens the lifespan of these cells in the periphery and promotes expansion in BM. Furthermore, TRAIL-Rs can be considered as potential targets for selectively inhibiting MDSCs.
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