Neutrophils in the Tumor Microenvironment

Trends Immunol. 2016 Jan;37(1):41-52. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2015 Dec 14.


Neutrophils are the first responders to sites of acute tissue damage and infection. Recent studies suggest that in addition to neutrophil apoptosis, resolution of neutrophil inflammation at wounds can be mediated by reverse migration from tissues and transmigration back into the vasculature. In settings of chronic inflammation, neutrophils persist in tissues, and this persistence has been associated with cancer progression. However, the role of neutrophils in the tumor microenvironment remains controversial, with evidence for both pro- and anti-tumor roles. Here we review the mechanisms that regulate neutrophil recruitment and resolution at sites of tissue damage, with a specific focus on the tumor microenvironment. We discuss the current understanding as to how neutrophils alter the tumor microenvironment to support or hinder cancer progression, and in this context outline gaps in understanding and important areas of inquiry.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogenesis
  • Cell Movement
  • Inflammation
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Tumor Microenvironment*