In myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) the immune system is involved in pathogenesis as well as in disease progression. Dendritic cells (DC) are key players of the immune system by serving as regulators of immune responses. Their function has been scarcely studied in MDS and most of the reported studies didn’t investigate naturally occurring DC subsets. Therefore, we here examined the frequency and function of DC subsets and slan+ non-classical monocytes in various MDS risk groups. Frequencies of DC as well as of slan+ monocytes were decreased in MDS bone marrow (BM) compared to normal bone marrow (NBM) samples. Transcriptional profiling revealed down-regulation of transcripts related to pro-inflammatory pathways in MDS-derived cells as compared to NBM. Additionally, their capacity to induce T cell proliferation was impaired. Multidimensional mass cytometry showed that whereas healthy donor-derived slan+ monocytes supported Th1/Th17/Treg differentiation/expansion their MDS-derived counterparts also mediated substantial Th2 expansion. Our findings point to a role for an impaired ability of DC subsets to adequately respond to cellular stress and DNA damage in the immune escape and progression of MDS. As such, it paves the way toward potential novel immunotherapeutic interventions.
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