Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Microbiology & Immunology

First Advisor

Masoud Manjili


Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) are a heterogeneous population of immature cells at various stages of differentiation. These cells are broadly characterized by the simultaneous expression of the surface markers CD11b and Gr1 and have been found to accumulate in large numbers in response to many different tumors in both mice and humans, including HER2/neu+ breast cancers. The adoptive immunotherapy of cancers has been a promising field, yet the clinical efficacy of adoptive immunotherapies targeted against human breast cancers and many other cancers has been extremely limited. Given the influx of MDSC in tumor-bearing individuals, we hypothesized that these cells were the reason for the failure of adoptively transferred T cells to effectively reject primary tumors. Using either monoclonal antibodies or the chemotherapeutic drug, gemcitabine, we aimed to eliminate MDSC cells in vivo to determine if adoptively transferred T cells would be more effective in the absence of these cells. We further aimed to characterize the mechanism of T cell suppression by MDSC and the tumor-derived soluble factor(s) responsible for their accumulation. We have found that the elimination of MDSC in vivo does result in significant tumor inhibition when adoptively transferred T cells are administered. Furthermore, the use of gemcitabine in conjunction with adoptively transferred T cells resulted in complete tumor rejection in 100% of mice and was accompanied by large antibody titers against HER2/neu as well as strong recall responses characterized by IFN-g release and subsequent rejection of further tumor challenges. We report herein that suppression by MDSC is contact dependent and affects the proliferation of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. The accumulation of MDSC in tumor-bearing mice can be entirely attributed to tumor-derived soluble factors, with GM-CSF specifically causing the generation and maintenance of these cells. Our findings suggest that the adoptive immunotherapy of breast carcinomas in a clinical setting should be combined with the use of gemcitabine, and that the use of GM-CSF as an adjuvant in cancer vaccines should be carefully re-evaluated as this cytokine may result in increased MDSC accumulation in vivo.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2009