The neutrophil in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 May;119(5):1065-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2006.12.640. Epub 2007 Jan 30.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a complex, heterogeneous collection of conditions characterized by irreversible expiratory airflow limitation. The disease involves a multifaceted progressive inflammatory process leading to the development of mucus hypersecretion, tissue destruction, and disruption to the normal repair and defense mechanisms. The result is increased resistance to airflow in small conducting airways, change in lung compliance, and the premature collapse of airways during expiration that leads to air trapping. Neutrophils are necessary in healthy lungs; they are an important component of innate immunity, protecting healthy individuals against infection. However, in COPD, they play a role in the destructive processes that characterize the disease. They can be responsible for significant damage when they accumulate at sites of inflammation and are harmful to healthy tissue. In recent years, increased understanding of the role of neutrophils has led to improved knowledge of the pathogenesis of COPD and allowed new avenues of treatment to be investigated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / immunology*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*