First published June 4, 2019 - More info
Tuberculosis patients and mice infected with live Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) accumulate high numbers of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). Here, we hypothesized that also dead Mtb vaccines may induce MDSCs that could impair the efficacy of vaccination. We found that repeated injections of Mtb vaccines (heat-killed Mtb in Incomplete Freund's Adjuvant, like Montanide) but not single or control vaccines without Mtb strongly expanded CD11b+ myeloid cells in the spleen, that suppressed T cell proliferation and killing ex vivo. Dead Mtb vaccination induced the generation of CD11b+ Ly-6Chigh CD115+ iNOS/Nos2+ monocytic MDSCs (M-MDSCs) upon application of inflammatory or microbial activation signals. In vivo these M-MDSCs positioned strategically in the spleen by infiltrating the splenic bridging channels and white pulp areas. Notably, within 6 to 24 hours in a Nos2-dependent fashion they produced NO to rapidly kill conventional and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (cDCs, pDCs) while, surprisingly, sparing T cells in vivo. Thus, we demonstrate that Mtb vaccine induced M-MDSCs to not directly suppress T cell in vivo but, instead, M-MDSCs directly target DC subpopulations thereby indirectly suppressing effector T cell responses. Collectively, we demonstrate that Mtb booster vaccines induce M-MDSCs in the spleen that can be activated to kill DCs cautioning to thoroughly investigate MDSC formation in individuals after Mtb vaccination in clinical trials.