Myeloid suppressor cells induced by retinal pigment epithelial cells inhibit autoreactive T-cell responses that lead to experimental autoimmune uveitis

Zhidan Tu, Yan Li, Dawn Smith, Catherine Doller, Sunao Sugita, Chi Chao Chan, Shiguang Qian, John Fung, Rachel R. Caspi, Lina Lu, Feng Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To test whether retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells are able to induce myeloid-derived suppressor cell (MDSC) differentiation from bone marrow (BM) progenitors. METHODS. BM cells were cocultured with or without RPE cells in the presence of GM-CSF and IL-4. Numbers of resultant MDSCs were assessed by flow cytometry after 6 days of incubation. The ability of the RPE cell-induced MDSCs to inhibit T cells was evaluated by a CFSE-based T-cell proliferation assay. To explore the mechanism by which RPE cells induce MDSC differentiation, PD-L1-deficient RPE cells and blocking antibodies against TGF-β, CTLA-2α, and IL-6 were used. RPE cellinduced MDSCs were adoptively transferred into mice immunized with interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein in complete Freund's adjuvant to test their efficacy in suppressing autoreactive T-cell responses in experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU). RESULTS. RPE cells induced the differentiation of MDSCs. These RPE cell-induced MDSCs significantly inhibited T-cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. PD-L1-deficient RPE cells induced MDSC differentiation as efficiently as wild-type RPE cells, and neutralizing TGF-β or CTLA-2α did not alter the numbers of induced MDSCs. However, blocking IL-6 reduced the efficacy of RPE cell-induced MDSC differentiation. Finally, adoptive transfer of RPE cell-induced MDSCs suppressed IRBPspecific T-cell responses that led to EAU. CONCLUSIONS. RPE cells induce the differentiation of MDSCs from bone marrow progenitors. Both cell surface molecules and soluble factors are important in inducing MDSC differentiation. PD-L1, TGF-β, and CTLA-2α were not measurably involved in RPE cell-induced MDSC differentiation, whereas IL-6 was important in the process. The induction of MDSCs could be another mechanism by which RPE cells control immune reactions in the retina, and RPE cell-induced MDSCs should be further investigated as a potential approach to therapy for autoimmune posterior uveitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)959-966
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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