MDSCs (myeloid derived suppressor cells) are a recently discovered and very heterogenous cell type that appear to directly suppress T cell responses and their presence in the tumour or the circulation is an extremely poor prognostic marker.
The Bowdish lab recently dipped our foot into the confusing world of MDSCs because we were curious to know whether their frequency increases with age and if so, could this explain why age is a risk factor for many cancers. They do increase with age and this may explain why some adaptive immune responses decline with age. One thing we were very surprised to find is that individuals who had any history of cancer but were believed to be in remission had higher levels of these cells in circulation. This begs the question – did these people have higher levels and to begin with and is this why they were predisposed to cancer? Or do they still have subclinical tumours that promote the development of MDSCs? Or does the suppressive environment of the cancer microenvironment stay with you for life? More studies (not by us, that was enough) are warranted.
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