Clearance of apoptotic neutrophils and resolution of inflammation

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229 Scopus citations


The engulfment of apoptotic cells by phagocytes, a process referred to as efferocytosis, is essential for maintenance of normal tissue homeostasis and a prerequisite for the resolution of inflammation. Neutrophils are the predominant circulating white blood cell in humans, and contain an arsenal of toxic substances that kill and degrade microbes. Neutrophils are short-lived and spontaneously die by apoptosis. This review will highlight how the engulfment of apoptotic neutrophils by human phagocytes occurs, how heterogeneity of phagocyte populations influences efferocytosis signaling, and downstream consequences of efferocytosis. The efferocytosis of apoptotic neutrophils by macrophages promotes anti-inflammatory signaling, prevents neutrophil lysis, and dampens immune responses. Given the immunomodulatory properties of efferocytosis, understanding pathways that regulate and enhance efferocytosis could be harnessed to combat infection and chronic inflammatory conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-370
Number of pages14
JournalImmunological Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • apoptosis
  • efferocytosis
  • infection
  • inflammation
  • macrophages
  • neutrophil


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