Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells Produce IL-10 to Elicit DNMT3b-Dependent IRF8 Silencing to Promote Colitis-Associated Colon Tumorigenesis

Mohammed L. Ibrahim, John D. Klement, Chunwan Lu, Priscilla S. Redd, Wei Xiao, Dafeng Yang, Darren D Browning, Natasha Marie Savage, Phillip J. Buckhaults, Herbert C. Morse, Kebin Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


IL-10 functions as a suppressor of colitis and colitis-associated colon cancer, but it is also a risk locus associated with ulcerative colitis. The mechanism underlying the contrasting roles of IL-10 in inflammation and colon cancer is unknown. We report here that inflammation induces the accumulation of CD11b+Gr1+ myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) that express high levels of IL-10 in colon tissue. IL-10 induces the activation of STAT3 that directly binds to the Dnmt1 and Dnmt3b promoters to activate their expression, resulting in DNA hypermethylation at the Irf8 promoter to silence IRF8 expression in colon epithelial cells. Mice with Irf8 deleted in colonic epithelial cells exhibit significantly higher inflammation-induced tumor incidence. Human colorectal carcinomas have significantly higher DNMT1 and DNMT3b and lower IRF8 expression, and they exhibit significantly higher IRF8 promoter DNA methylation than normal colon. Our data identify the MDSC-IL-10-STAT3-DNMT3b-IRF8 pathway as a link between chronic inflammation and colon cancer initiation. Ibrahim et al. report that chronic inflammation induces colonic accumulation of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) that upregulates IL-10. IL-10 directly regulates STAT3 activation to upregulate DNMT3b to silence tumor suppressor IRF8 in colonic epithelial cells. The MDSC-IL-10-STAT3-DNMT3b-IRF8 pathway links chronic inflammation to colon cancer initiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3036-3046.e6
JournalCell Reports
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 11 2018


  • DNA methylation
  • DNMT3b
  • IL-10
  • IRF8
  • MDSCs
  • STAT3
  • chronic inflammation
  • colitis
  • colon cancer
  • colon tumorigenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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