Neutrophils, from marrow to microbes

Immunity. 2010 Nov 24;33(5):657-70. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2010.11.011.


Neutrophils are produced in the bone marrow from stem cells that proliferate and differentiate to mature neutrophils fully equipped with an armory of granules. These contain proteins that enable the neutrophil to deliver lethal hits against microorganisms, but also to cause great tissue damage. Neutrophils circulate in the blood as dormant cells. At sites of infection, endothelial cells capture bypassing neutrophils and guide them through the endothelial cell lining whereby the neutrophils are activated and tuned for the subsequent interaction with microbes. Once in tissues, neutrophils kill microorganisms by microbicidal agents liberated from granules or generated by metabolic activation. As a final act, neutrophils can extrude stands of DNA with bactericidal proteins attached that act as extracellular traps for microorganisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / immunology*
  • Bone Marrow / immunology*
  • Cell Adhesion / immunology
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / immunology
  • Exocytosis / immunology
  • Hematopoiesis / immunology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Infections / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / microbiology*
  • Phagocytosis / immunology
  • Secretory Vesicles / immunology*
  • Transendothelial and Transepithelial Migration / immunology


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules