G-CSF induces CD15+ CD14+ cells from granulocytes early in the physiological environment of pregnancy and the cancer immunosuppressive microenvironment

Ebtehag Maneta, Livingstone Fultang, Jemma Taylor, Matthew Pugh, William Jenkinson, Graham Anderson, Arri Coomarasamy, Mark D Kilby, David M Lissauer, Francis Mussai, Carmela De Santo

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Objectives: Recombinant granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) is frequently administered to patients with cancer to enhance granulocyte recovery post-chemotherapy. Clinical trials have also used G-CSF to modulate myeloid cell function in pregnancy and inflammatory diseases. Although the contribution of G-CSF to expanding normal granulocytes is well known, the effect of this cytokine on the phenotype and function of immunosuppressive granulocytic cells remains unclear. Here, we investigate the impact of physiological and iatrogenic G-CSF on an as yet undescribed granulocyte phenotype and ensuing outcome on T cells in the settings of cancer and pregnancy.

Methods: Granulocytes from patients treated with recombinant G-CSF, patients with late-stage cancer and women enrolled on a trial of recombinant G-CSF were phenotyped by flow cytometry. The ability and mechanism of polarised granulocytes to suppress T-cell proliferation were assessed by cell proliferation assays, flow cytometry and ELISA.

Results: We observed that G-CSF leads to a significant upregulation of CD14 expression on CD15+ granulocytes. These CD15+CD14+ cells are identified in the blood of patients with patients undergoing neutrophil mobilisation with recombinant G-CSF, and physiologically in women early in pregnancy or in those treated as a part of a clinical trial. Immunohistochemistry of tumor tissue or placental tissue identified the expression of G-CSF. The G-CSF upregulates the release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in CD15+CD14+ cells leading to the suppression of T-cell proliferation.

Conclusions: G-CSF induces a population of ROS+ immunosuppressive CD15+CD14+ granulocytes. Strategies for how recombinant G-CSF can be scheduled to reduce effects on T-cell therapies should be developed in future clinical studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1395
Number of pages12
JournalClinical and Translational Immunology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors. Clinical & Translational Immunology published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology, Inc.


  • CD15+CD14+
  • G-CSF
  • MDSC
  • cancer
  • placenta


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