The multifaceted functions of neutrophils

Annu Rev Pathol. 2014;9:181-218. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pathol-020712-164023. Epub 2013 Sep 16.

Abstract

Neutrophils and neutrophil-like cells are the major pathogen-fighting immune cells in organisms ranging from slime molds to mammals. Central to their function is their ability to be recruited to sites of infection, to recognize and phagocytose microbes, and then to kill pathogens through a combination of cytotoxic mechanisms. These include the production of reactive oxygen species, the release of antimicrobial peptides, and the recently discovered expulsion of their nuclear contents to form neutrophil extracellular traps. Here we discuss these primordial neutrophil functions, which also play key roles in tissue injury, by providing details of neutrophil cytotoxic functions and congenital disorders of neutrophils. In addition, we present more recent evidence that interactions between neutrophils and adaptive immune cells establish a feed-forward mechanism that amplifies pathologic inflammation. These newly appreciated contributions of neutrophils are described in the setting of several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Extracellular Matrix / immunology
  • Homeostasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Neutrophil Activation / immunology
  • Neutrophil Infiltration / immunology
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Phagocytosis / immunology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / immunology

Substances

  • Reactive Oxygen Species