Neutrophilic inflammation in the pathogenesis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Aidan Butler, Georgia May Walton, Elizabeth Sapey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
292 Downloads (Pure)


Current paradigms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) treatment suggest stratifying patients by their symptoms, utilising three main drug classes, but it is unclear if this approach will substantially alter the progression of the disease in the long term. More treatment options are needed which target the underlying pathology of the condition. Whilst many inflammatory cells are implicated in COPD, the neutrophil is by far the most abundant and has been extensively associated with disease pathogenesis. Neutrophil products are thought to be key mediators of inflammatory changes in the airways of COPD patients, causing pathological features such as emphysema and hypersecretion of mucus. High rates of bacterial colonisation and recurrent infective exacerbations of COPD, as well as evidence of neutrophil-associated host damage suggest that neutrophil functions may be impaired in COPD. This concept is supported by studies demonstrating impaired migratory accuracy and increased degranulation and reactive oxygen species release, with some evidence of altered cellular signalling pathways which might be exploitable as therapeutic targets. This review discusses our evolving understanding of neutrophil function in both health and COPD and highlights the role of this cell in disease pathogenesis, to determine whether this key inflammatory mediator represents a viable therapeutic target to prevent disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-404
JournalCOPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Issue number4
Early online date31 Jul 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jul 2018


  • Proteinases
  • emphysema
  • chronic bronchitis
  • chemotaxis
  • phagocytosis


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