Recent work demonstrated a role for myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in the antimicrobial response in newborns, but the signals guiding their differentiation remained unknown. In this issue of the JCI, Liu et al. demonstrate that lactoferrin (LF) converts newborn neutrophils and monocytes to MDSCs via the low-density lipoprotein receptor–related protein-2 (LRP2) receptor and NF-κB activation. Due to their strong antimicrobial activity, adoptive transfer of MDSCs generated by in vitro culture with LF prolonged the survival of newborn mice with necrotizing enterocolitis, a severe pathology in preterm infants. These findings indicate a surprising protective role of MDSCs in newborns and demonstrate the potential of MDSC therapy for the treatment of infants with diseases associated with deregulated inflammation.
Rebekka Weber, Viktor Umansky