Human neutrophils represent the predominant leucocyte in circulation and the first responder to infection. Concurrent with ingestion of microorganisms, neutrophils activate and assemble the NADPH oxidase at the phagosome, thereby generating superoxide anion and hydrogen peroxide. Concomitantly, granules release their contents into the phagosome, where the antimicrobial proteins and enzymes synergize with oxidants to create an environment toxic to the captured microbe. The most rapid and complete antimicrobial action by human neutrophils against many organisms relies on the combined efforts of the azurophilic granule protein myeloperoxidase and hydrogen peroxide from the NADPH oxidase to oxidize chloride, thereby generating hypochlorous acid and a host of downstream reaction products. Although individual components of the neutrophil antimicrobial response exhibit specific activities in isolation, the situation in the environment of the phagosome is far more complicated, a consequence of multiple and complex interactions among oxidants, proteins and their by-products. In most cases, the cooperative interactions among the phagosomal contents, both from the host and the microbe, culminate in loss of viability of the ingested organism.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.