There is a progressive gradient of immunosuppression from immature to mature neutrophils present in the myeloma microenvironment.
CD11b+CD13+CD16+ mature neutrophils are epigenetically deregulated, and their abundance in the myeloma microenvironment is prognostic.
Granulocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells (G-MDSCs) promote tumor growth and immunosuppression in multiple myeloma (MM). However, their phenotype is not well established for accurate monitoring or clinical translation. We aimed to provide the phenotypic profile of G-MDSCs based on their prognostic significance in MM, immunosuppressive potential, and molecular program. The preestablished phenotype of G-MDSCs was evaluated in bone marrow samples from controls and MM patients using multidimensional flow cytometry; surprisingly, we found that CD11b+CD14−CD15+CD33+HLADR− cells overlapped with common eosinophils and neutrophils, which were not expanded in MM patients. Therefore, we relied on automated clustering to unbiasedly identify all granulocytic subsets in the tumor microenvironment: basophils, eosinophils, and immature, intermediate, and mature neutrophils. In a series of 267 newly diagnosed MM patients (GEM2012MENOS65 trial), only the frequency of mature neutrophils at diagnosis was significantly associated with patient outcome, and a high mature neutrophil/T-cell ratio resulted in inferior progression-free survival (P < .001). Upon fluorescence-activated cell sorting of each neutrophil subset, T-cell proliferation decreased in the presence of mature neutrophils (0.5-fold; P = .016), and the cytotoxic potential of T cells engaged by a BCMA×CD3-bispecific antibody increased notably with the depletion of mature neutrophils (fourfold; P = .0007). Most interestingly, RNA sequencing of the 3 subsets revealed that G-MDSC–related genes were specifically upregulated in mature neutrophils from MM patients vs controls because of differential chromatin accessibility. Taken together, our results establish a correlation between the clinical significance, immunosuppressive potential, and transcriptional network of well-defined neutrophil subsets, providing for the first time a set of optimal markers (CD11b/CD13/CD16) for accurate monitoring of G-MDSCs in MM.