Living and dying for inflammation: neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils

Trends Immunol. 2013 Aug;34(8):398-409. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2013 May 9.


Neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils play essential roles during microbe-induced and sterile inflammation. The severity of such inflammatory processes is controlled, at least in part, by factors that regulate cell death and survival of granulocytes. In recent years, major progress has been made in understanding the molecular mechanisms of granulocyte cell death and in identifying novel damage- and pathogen-associated molecular patterns as well as regulatory cytokines impacting granulocyte viability. Furthermore, an increased interest in innate immunity has boosted our overall understanding of granulocyte biology. In this review, we describe and compare factors and mechanisms regulating neutrophil, eosinophil, and basophil lifespan. Because dysregulation of death pathways in granulocytes can contribute to inflammation-associated immunopathology, targeting granulocyte lifespan could be therapeutically promising.

Keywords: Apoptosis; DAMPs; PAMPs; cytokines; granulocytes; inflammation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basophils / cytology*
  • Basophils / immunology
  • Cell Death / immunology
  • Eosinophils / cytology*
  • Eosinophils / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / cytology*
  • Neutrophils / immunology