Neutrophilic Granulocytes - Promiscuous Accelerators of Atherosclerosis

Thromb Haemost. 2011 Nov;106(5):839-48. doi: 10.1160/TH11-07-0501. Epub 2011 Oct 20.


Neutrophils, as part of the innate immune system, are classically described to be main actors during the onset of inflammation enforcing rapid neutralisation and clearance of pathogens. Besides their well-studied role in acute inflammatory processes, recent advances strongly indicate a so far underappreciated importance of neutrophils in initiation and development of atherosclerosis. This review focuses on current findings on the role of neutrophils in atherosclerosis. As pro-inflammatory mechanisms of neutrophils have primarily been studied in the microvascular environment; we here aim at translating these into the context of macrovascular inflammation in atherosclerosis. Since much of the pro-inflammatory activities of neutrophils stem from instructing neighbouring cell types, we highlight the promiscuous interplay between neutrophils and platelets, monocytes, T lymphocytes, and dendritic cells and its possible relevance to atherosclerosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteries / immunology*
  • Atherosclerosis / immunology*
  • Cell Communication
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Neutrophil Infiltration
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Time Factors


  • Inflammation Mediators