Christoffersson G, Phillipson M
Cell Tissue Res. 371 (3) 415-423 [2018-03-00; online 2018-02-12]
The unique role of neutrophils in host defense is not only based on their abilities to kill bacteria but is also due to their abundance in circulation and their ability to quickly migrate and accumulate in great numbers at afflicted sites. The high number of circulating neutrophils is the result of regulated release of new neutrophils from bone marrow as well as from marginated pools to balance their recruitment to tissue. Marginated pools, such as the spleen and lung, have previously been attributed to passively delay neutrophil transit time due to their large capillary network, but recent reports demonstrate that they are comprised of neutrophils with specific functions. The spleen, for instance, holds neutrophil subpopulations at different anatomical locations with distinct functions important for, e.g., bacterial eradication, and the lung was recently shown to re-educate neutrophils that had trafficked from a site of sterile injury to home back to bone marrow for elimination. Further, recent reports demonstrate subpopulations of neutrophils with different actions during homeostasis, infection, tissue restitution and cancer. It is becoming increasingly clear that this cannot be due to different stages of neutrophil activation during their life span but instead points towards distinct subpopulations of neutrophils with different effector functions. Whether these cellular distinctions are due to different education or origin is, however, not yet known. Together, the accumulating information about the heterogeneous neutrophils presents important insights into their role in development of pathologies, as well as revealing novel targets in the form of certain subpopulations to treat disease.