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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2014 Feb;306(3):L217-30. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00311.2013. Epub 2013 Dec 6.

The mercurial nature of neutrophils: still an enigma in ARDS?

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Centre for Inflammation and Tissue Repair, Univ. College London, Rayne Institute, 5 Univ. St., London WC1E 6JF, UK.


The acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening lung condition resulting from direct and indirect insults to the lung. It is characterized by disruption of the endothelial-epithelial barrier, alveolar damage, pulmonary edema, and respiratory failure. A key feature of ARDS is the accumulation of neutrophils in the lung microvasculature, interstitium, and alveolar space. Despite a clear association between neutrophil influx into the lung and disease severity, there is some debate as to whether neutrophils directly contribute to disease pathogenesis. The primary function of neutrophils is to provide immediate host defense against pathogenic microorganisms. Neutrophils release numerous antimicrobial factors such as reactive oxygen species, proteinases, and neutrophil extracellular traps. However, these factors are also toxic to host cells and can result in bystander tissue damage. The excessive accumulation of neutrophils in ARDS may therefore contribute to disease progression. Central to neutrophil recruitment is the release of chemokines, including the archetypal neutrophil chemoattractant IL-8, from resident pulmonary cells. However, the chemokine network in the inflamed lung is complex and may involve several other chemokines, including CXCL10, CCL2, and CCL7. This review will therefore focus on the experimental and clinical evidence supporting neutrophils as key players in ARDS and the chemokines involved in recruiting them into the lung.


ARDS; chemokine; inflammation; lung injury; neutrophil

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