An Emerging Regulator of Inflammatory and Immune Response
by Marcos Casatella
Contrary to what is traditionally thought, the neutrophil is a remarkably versatile cell. Indeed, while the ability of neutrophils to transcribe many genes is no longer a matter of debate, the research conducted in recent years has brought forward exciting discoveries that have greatly broadened our knowledge on the functional role of this cell type and uncovered novel links involving neutrophils in unsuspected physiopathologic processes. For instance, evidence on their capacity to change the phenotype under specific circumstances, or on their active involvement in the resolution of inflammation (other than in its regulation), or also on their unquestionable regulatory role in angiogenesis and tumor fate, or else on their response to, and release of, a wide variety of cytokines and chemotactic molecules, has made it clear that the obsolete concept of the neutrophil as a ‘terminally differentiated, short-lived, cell devoid of transcriptional activities’ found in most biomedical textbooks is certainly
an old-style assumption which underestimates the multiple and amazing functional capacities of this cell type. Time is now ripe for pathologists, cell biologists, physicians, and, why not, the same immunologists, to definitivelychange such an outdated view and start thinking that neutrophils, in the contextof inflammatory and immune responses, can no longer be regarded as cells that only release preformed mediators and kill pathogens.