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Blood. 2010 Jul 29;116(4):625-7. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-01-259028. Epub 2010 Apr 21.

In vivo labeling with 2H2O reveals a human neutrophil lifespan of 5.4 days.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine, University Medical Center Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 100, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Neutrophils are essential effector cells of the innate immune response and are indispensable for host defense. Apart from their antimicrobial functions, neutrophils inform and shape subsequent immunity. This immune modulatory functionality might however be considered limited because of their generally accepted short lifespan (< 1 day). In contrast to the previously reported short lifespans acquired by ex vivo labeling or manipulation, we show that in vivo labeling in humans with the use of (2)H(2)O under homeostatic conditions showed an average circulatory neutrophil lifespan of 5.4 days. This lifespan is at least 10 times longer than previously reported and might lead to reappraisal of novel neutrophil functions in health and disease.

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