Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) represent an innate immune cell population comprised of immature myeloid cells and myeloid progenitors with very potent immunosuppressive potential. MDSCs are reported to be abundant in the lungs of active tuberculosis (TB) patients. We sought to perform an in-depth study of MDSCs during latent TB infection (LTBI) and active TB (ATB) using the nonhuman primate (NHP) model of pulmonary TB. We found a higher proportion of granulocytic, polymorphonuclear myeloid-derived suppressor cells (PMN-MDSCs) in the lungs of ATB animals compared to those with LTBI or naive control animals. Active disease in the lung, but not LTBI, was furthermore associated with higher proliferation, expansion, and immunosuppressive capabilities of PMN-MDSCs, as shown by enhanced expression of Ki67, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO1), interleukin-10 (IL-10), matrix metallopeptidase 9 (MMP-9), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), and programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1). These immunosuppressive PMN-MDSCs specifically localized to the lymphocytic cuff at the periphery of the granulomas in animals with ATB. Conversely, these cells were scarcely distributed in interstitial lung tissue and the inner core of granulomas. This spatial regulation suggests an important immunomodulatory role of PMN-MDSCs by restricting T cell access to the TB granuloma core and can potentially explain dysfunctional anti-TB responses in active granuloma. Our results raise the possibility that the presence of MDSCs can serve as a biomarker for ATB, while their disappearance can indicate successful therapy. Furthermore, MDSCs may serve as a potential target cell for adjunctive TB therapy. IMPORTANCE Myeloid cells are immunocytes of innate origin that orchestrate the first response toward pathogens via immune surveillance (uptake and killing), antigen presentation, and initiation of adaptive immunity by T cell stimulation. However, MDSCs are a subset of innate immunocytes that deviate to an immunoregulatory phenotype. MDSCs possess strong immunosuppressive capabilities that are induced in autoimmune, malignant neoplastic, and chronic inflammatory diseases. Induction of MDSCs has been found in peripheral blood, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, and pleural effusions of active TB patients, but their precise localization in lung tissue and in TB granulomas remains unclear due to challenges associated with sampling lungs and granulomas from active TB patients. Nonhuman primates (NHPs) are an important animal model with TB granulomas that closely mimic those found in humans and can therefore be used for studies that are otherwise challenging with patient material. Herein, we study MDSC localization in the lungs of NHPs exhibiting latent and active TB. Our findings reveal that MDSCs localize and exert their immunosuppressive roles at the periphery rather than in the core of TB granulomas.
- Active TB
- Bronchoalveolar lavage
- Latent TB
- Myeloid-derived suppressor cells
- Nonhuman primates
- Peripheral blood mononuclear cell
- Rhesus macaques