How human neutrophils kill and degrade microbes: an integrated view


  • William M. Nauseef

    Corresponding author
    1. Inflammation Program and the Department of Medicine, University of Iowa and the VA Medical Center, Iowa City, IA, USA.
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William M. Nauseef
Inflammation Program
University of Iowa
2501 Crosspark Road
D160 MTF
Coralville, IA 52241, USA
Tel.: 319-335-4278
Fax: 319-335-4194


Summary:  Neutrophils constitute the dominant cell in the circulation that mediates the earliest innate immune human responses to infection. The morbidity and mortality from infection rise dramatically in patients with quantitative or qualitative neutrophil defects, providing clinical confirmation of the important role of normal neutrophils for human health. Neutrophil-dependent anti-microbial activity against ingested microbes represents the collaboration of multiple agents, including those prefabricated during granulocyte development in the bone marrow and those generated de novo following neutrophil activation. Furthermore, neutrophils cooperate with extracellular agents as well as other immune cells to optimally kill and degrade invading microbes. This brief review focuses attention on two examples of the integrated nature of neutrophil-mediated anti-microbial action within the phagosome. The importance and complexity of myeloperoxidase-mediated events illustrate a collaboration of anti-microbial responses that are endogenous to the neutrophil, whereas the synergy between the phagocyte NADPH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate) oxidase and plasma-derived group IIA phospholipase A2 exemplifies the collective effects of the neutrophil with an exogenous factor to achieve degradation of ingested staphylococci.