Neutrophil apoptosis and the resolution of infection

Immunol Res. 2009;43(1-3):25-61. doi: 10.1007/s12026-008-8049-6.


Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) are the most abundant white cell in humans and an essential component of the innate immune system. PMNs are typically the first type of leukocyte recruited to sites of infection or areas of inflammation. Ingestion of microorganisms triggers production of reactive oxygen species and fusion of cytoplasmic granules with forming phagosomes, leading to effective killing of ingested microbes. Phagocytosis of bacteria typically accelerates neutrophil apoptosis, which ultimately promotes the resolution of infection. However, some bacterial pathogens alter PMN apoptosis to survive and thereby cause disease. Herein, we review PMN apoptosis and the ability of microorganisms to alter this important process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / immunology*
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacteria / immunology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Infections / immunology
  • Infections / metabolism
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / microbiology
  • Phagocytosis / immunology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / immunology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Reactive Oxygen Species