BACKGROUND: Gliomas are known to induce local and systemic immunosuppression, inhibiting T-cell-mediated cytotoxic responses to tumor growth. Tumor-associated macrophages are a significant component of the immune infiltrate in gliomas and may express immunosuppressive surface ligands, such as B7-H1. METHODS: Tumor and peripheral blood samples from patients with glioblastoma (GBM) were analyzed by flow cytometry to evaluate the expression of B7-H1 in circulating and tumor-infiltrating macrophages. Human monocytes from healthy patients were stimulated with conditioned media from glioma cells to evaluate B7-H1 expression. Production of interleukin (IL)-10 by stimulated monocytes was measured by ELISA, and stimulation with IL-10 alone was evaluated for the ability to induce B7-H1 expression. The effect of inhibiting IL-10 and its receptor on glioma-induced B7-H1 expression in monocytes was evaluated. RESULTS: Circulating monocytes in patients with GBM had significantly increased expression of B7-H1 compared with healthy control patients. Tumor-associated macrophages from matched GBM tissue had even greater B7-H1 expression. Treatment of normal monocytes with glioma-conditioned media could significantly increase B7-H1 expression. Stimulation of monocytes with conditioned media resulted in substantial production of IL-10 and upregulation of the IL-10 receptor. Stimulation of monocytes with IL-10 alone could significantly increase B7-H1 expression, sufficient to induce T-cell apoptosis when cocultured with stimulated monocytes. Inhibition of IL-10 and the IL-10 receptor could knock down the effect of glioma media on B7-H1 by more than 50%. CONCLUSIONS: Gliomas can upregulate B7-H1 expression in circulating monocytes and tumor-infiltrative macrophages through modulation of autocrine/paracrine IL-10 signaling, resulting in an immunosuppressive phenotype. These data describe a novel mechanism of immunosuppression that can be targeted with antibody blockade. SECONDARY CATEGORY: Tumor Biology.