Neutrophil heterogeneity: Bona fide subsets or polarization states?

J Leukoc Biol. 2018 May;103(5):829-838. doi: 10.1002/JLB.3RI0917-361R. Epub 2018 Feb 20.


Neutrophils are key components of the innate immune system that play important roles during infection, injury, and chronic disease. In recent years, neutrophil heterogeneity has become an emerging focus with accumulating evidence of neutrophil populations with distinct functions under both steady-state and pathologic conditions. Despite these advances, it remains unclear whether these different populations represent bona fide subsets or simply activation/polarization states in response to local cues. In this review, we summarize the varied neutrophils populations that have been described under both basal and during inflammation. We discuss the evidence that supports the existence of neutrophils subsets. Finally, we identify potential gaps in our knowledge that may further advance our current understanding of neutrophil heterogeneity.

Keywords: Cellular Heterogeneity; Immunity; Innate; Neutrophils.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Neutrophil Activation
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / pathology

Grants and funding