Interaction between invariant NKT cells and myeloid-derived suppressor cells in cancer patients: evidence and therapeutic opportunities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Francis Mussai
  • Carmela De Santo
  • Vincenzo Cerundolo

Colleges, School and Institutes


Despite advances in therapeutic strategies, the ability of cancer cells to evade destruction remains a significant obstacle to the development of effective anticancer treatment. In recent years a subset of immune cells, myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), has been shown to play a key role in evasion of the patient's immune system by tumor cells. A number of different tumor types are associated with increased numbers of circulating MDSCs in cancer patients, suppressing the immune response and permitting continued tumor cell proliferation. Invariant NKT (iNKT) cells have recently been defined as a unique subset of immune cells that are able to act as a link between the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system. iNKT cells have the ability to carry out immune surveillance of tumor cells and control proliferation of malignant cells. Recently, we presented evidence that iNKT cells are able to interact with and decrease the numbers of circulating MDSCs in melanoma patients. This review discusses the evidence for MDSCs in tumor progression and the implication that iNKT cells could be developed as a potent therapeutic strategy.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-59
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunotherapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012