Targeting glutamine metabolism enhances tumor-specific immunity by modulating suppressive myeloid cells

Min Hee Oh, Im Hong Sun, Liang Zhao, Robert D. Leone, Im Meng Sun, Wei Xu, Samuel L. Collins, Ada J. Tam, Richard L. Blosser, Chirag H. Patel, Judson M. Englert, Matthew L. Arwood, Jiayu Wen, Yee Chan-Li, Lukáš Tenora, Pavel Majer, Rana Rais, Barbara S. Slusher, Maureen R. Horton, Jonathan D. Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Myeloid cells comprise a major component of the tumor microenvironment (TME) that promotes tumor growth and immune evasion. By employing a small-molecule inhibitor of glutamine metabolism, not only were we able to inhibit tumor growth, but we markedly inhibited the generation and recruitment of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). Targeting tumor glutamine metabolism led to a decrease in CSF3 and hence recruitment of MDSCs as well as immunogenic cell death, leading to an increase in inflammatory tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). Alternatively, inhibiting glutamine metabolism of the MDSCs themselves led to activation-induced cell death and conversion of MDSCs to inflammatory macrophages. Surprisingly, blocking glutamine metabolism also inhibited IDO expression of both the tumor and myeloid-derived cells, leading to a marked decrease in kynurenine levels. This in turn inhibited the development of metastasis and further enhanced antitumor immunity. Indeed, targeting glutamine metabolism rendered checkpoint blockade-resistant tumors susceptible to immunotherapy. Overall, our studies define an intimate interplay between the unique metabolism of tumors and the metabolism of suppressive immune cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3865-3884
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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