Spleen mediates a distinct hematopoietic progenitor response supporting tumor-promoting myelopoiesis

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Abstract

Cancer progression is associated with alterations of intra- and extramedullary hematopoiesis to support a systemic tumor-promoting myeloid response. However, the functional specialty, mechanism, and clinical relevance of extramedullary hematopoiesis (EMH) remain unclear. Here, we showed that the heightened splenic myelopoiesis in tumor-bearing hosts was not only characterized by the accumulation of myeloid precursors, but also associated with profound functional alterations of splenic early hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs). With the distinct capability to produce and respond to granulocyte-macrophage CSF (GM-CSF), these splenic HSPCs were “primed” and committed to generating immunosuppressive myeloid cells. Mechanistically, the CCL2/CCR2 axis–dependent recruitment and the subsequent local education by the splenic stroma were critical for eliciting this splenic HSPC response. Selective abrogation of this splenic EMH was sufficient to synergistically enhance the therapeutic efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade. Clinically, patients with different types of solid tumors exhibited increased splenic HSPC levels associated with poor survival. These findings reveal a unique and important role of splenic hematopoiesis in tumor-associated myelopoiesis.

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