Caspase-1 from human myeloid-derived suppressor cells can promote t cell–independent tumor proliferation

Qi Zeng, Juan Fu, Michael Korrer, Mikhail Gorbounov, Peter J. Murray, Drew Pardoll, David L. Masica, Young J. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Immunosuppressive myeloid-derived suppressive cells (MDSCs) are characterized by their phenotypic and functional heterogeneity. To better define their T cell–independent functions within the tumor, sorted monocytic CD14 þ CD11b þ HLA-DR low/– MDSCs (mMDSC) from squamous cell carcinoma patients showed upregulated caspase-1 activity, which was associated with increased IL1b and IL18 expression. In vitro studies demonstrated that mMDSCs promoted caspase-1–dependent proliferation of multiple squamous carcinoma cell lines in both human and murine systems. In vivo, growth rates of B16, MOC1, and Panc02 were significantly blunted in chimeric mice adoptively transferred with caspase-1 null bone marrow cells under T cell–depleted conditions. Adoptive transfer of wild-type Gr-1 þ CD11b þ MDSCs from tumor-bearing mice reversed this antitumor response, whereas caspase-1 inhibiting thalidomide-treated MDSCs phenocopied the antitumor response found in caspase-1 null mice. We further hypothesized that MDSC caspase-1 activity could promote tumor-intrinsic MyD88-dependent carcinogenesis. In mice with wild-type caspase-1, MyD88-silenced tumors displayed reduced growth rate, but in chimeric mice with caspase-1 null bone marrow cells, MyD88-silenced tumors did not display differential tumor growth rate. When we queried the TCGA database, we found that caspase-1 expression is correlated with overall survival in squamous cell carcinoma patients. Taken together, our findings demonstrated that caspase-1 in MDSCs is a direct T cell–independent mediator of tumor proliferation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)566-577
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Immunology Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cancer Research


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