Constitutive neutrophil apoptosis: mechanisms and regulation

Am J Hematol. 2008 Apr;83(4):288-95. doi: 10.1002/ajh.21078.


Neutrophil constitutive death is a critical cellular process for modulating neutrophil number and function, and it plays an essential role in neutrophil homeostasis and the resolution of inflammation. Neutrophils die due to programmed cell death or apoptosis. In this article, we review recent studies on the mechanism of neutrophil apoptosis. The involvement of caspase, calpain, reactive oxygen species, cellular survival/death signaling pathways, mitochondria, and BCL-2 family member proteins are discussed. The fate of neutrophils can be influenced within the inflammatory microenvironment. We summarize the current understanding regarding the modulation of neutrophil apoptotic death by various extracellular stimuli such as proinflammatory cytokines, cell adhesion, phagocytosis, red blood cells, and platelets. The involvement of neutrophil apoptosis in infectious and inflammatory diseases is also addressed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / physiology
  • Blood Platelets / physiology
  • Calpain / physiology
  • Caspases / physiology
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Erythrocytes
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Infections / immunology
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Neutrophils / cytology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / physiology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Receptors, Death Domain / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Receptors, Death Domain
  • Calpain
  • Caspases