Neutrophils are the most abundant immune cells in humans and serve as first responders to a myriad of host perturbations. Equipped with a plethora of antimicrobial molecules, neutrophils invade sites of inflammation to eradicate pathogens and clear debris. Traditionally, neutrophils were thought to cause collateral tissue damage before dying at the site. However, the presence of neutrophil infiltration into sterile injuries (in the absence of infections) suggests additional roles for these cells. Now, the view of neutrophils as indiscriminate killers seems to be changing as evolving evidence suggests that neutrophils actively orchestrate resolution of inflammation and contribute to tissue repair. Novel concepts include the idea that neutrophils are key to revascularization and subsequently reverse-transmigrate back to the vasculature, actively leaving sites of tissue damage to re-home to functional niches in the lung and bone marrow. This Review scrutinizes the role of neutrophils in tissue damage and repair, discussing recent findings and raising unresolved questions around this intriguing immune cell.
Moritz Peiseler, Paul Kubes