Frequencies and proportions of regulatory T cells (Tregs) and myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in peripheral blood may be informative biomarkers for certain disease states. The influence of genetics and lifetime pathogen exposures on Treg and MDSC frequencies is largely unexplored. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) establishes a latent infection and causes an accumulation of late-differentiated CD8+ memory T cells, commonly associated with a lower frequency of naive cells. Here, analyzing peripheral blood mononuclear cells by multicolor flow cytometry, we found a tendency towards lower frequencies of CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ Tregs in CMV-seropositive than-seronegative middle-aged individuals (p = 0.054), whereas frequencies of lineage-negative CD14+HLA-DR-MDSCs were significantly lower in CMV-seropositive participants (p = 0.005). Assessing associations with the presence of antibodies against different CMV structural proteins, rather than merely assigning seropositivity or seronegativity, failed to yield any closer associations. Examining Treg subsets revealed at most a minor role of the individual’s genetic background, based on an analysis of monozygotic (MZ, n = 42) versus dizygotic (DZ, n = 39) twin pairs from the Danish Twin Registry. The same was true for MDSCs. These initial results suggest that an immunological history of exposures is more important than genetics in determining overall human suppressor cell levels.
- Myeloid-derived suppressor cells
- Regulatory T cells