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Journal of Virology


Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) have been characterized in several disease settings, especially in many tumor systems. Compared to their involvement in tumor microenvironments, however, MDSCs have been less well studied in their responses to infectious disease processes, in particular to retroviruses that induce immunodeficiency. Here, we demonstrate for the first time the development of a highly immunosuppressive MDSC population that is dependent on infection by the LP-BM5 retrovirus, which causes murine acquired immunodeficiency. These MDSCs express a cell surface marker signature (CD11b Gr-1 Ly6C ) characteristic of monocyte-type MDSCs. Such MDSCs profoundly inhibit immune responsiveness by a cell dose- and substan- tially inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS)-dependent mechanism that is independent of arginase activity, PD-1–PD-L1 ex- pression, and interleukin 10 (IL-10) production. These MDSCs display levels of immunosuppressive function in parallel with the extent of disease in LP-BM5-infected wild-type (w.t.) versus knockout mouse strains that are differentially susceptible to patho- genesis. These MDSCs suppressed not only T-cell but also B-cell responses, which are an understudied target for MDSC inhibi- tion. The MDSC immunosuppression of B-cell responses was confirmed by the use of purified B responder cells, multiple B-cell stimuli, and independent assays measuring B-cell expansion. Retroviral load measurements indicated that the suppressive Ly6Glow/ Ly6C CD11b -enriched MDSC subset was positive for LP-BM5, albeit at a significantly lower level than that of non- fractionated splenocytes from LP-BM5-infected mice. These results, including the strong direct MDSC inhibition of B-cell re- sponsiveness, are novel for murine retrovirus-induced immunosuppression and, as this broadly suppressive function mirrors that of the LP-BM5-induced disease syndrome, support a possible pathogenic effector role for these retrovirus-induced MDSCs.