Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells: Paradoxical Roles in Infection and Immunity

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Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are a heterogeneous population of immature suppressor cells that are generated due to aberrant myelopoiesis under pathological conditions. Although MDSCs have been recognized for more than 20 years under the guise of different monikers, these particular populations of myeloid cells gained more attention recently due to their immunosuppressive properties, which halt host immune responses to growing cancers or overwhelming infections. While MDSCs may contribute to immune homeostasis after infection or tissue injury by limiting excessive inflammatory processes, their expansion may be at the expense of pathogen elimination and thus may lead to disease persistence. Therefore, MDSCs may be either damaging or obliging to the host by attenuating, for example, antitumor or anti-infectious immune responses. In this review, we recapitulate the biological and immunological aspects of MDSCs, including their generation, distribution, trafficking and the factors involved in their activation, expansion, suppressive functions, and interplay between MDSCs and regulatory T cells, with a focus on the perspectives of infection and inflammation.