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Neutrophil plasticity in the tumor microenvironment

Morgan Giese, Laurel Hind and Anna Huttenlocher

Abstract

Neutrophils act as the body's first line of defense against infection and respond to diverse inflammatory cues, including cancer. Neutrophils display plasticity with the ability to adapt their function in different inflammatory contexts. In the tumor microenvironment, neutrophils have varied functions and have been classified using different terms including N1/N2 neutrophil, tumor-associated neutrophil (TAN), and polymorphonuclear-myeloid derived suppressor cell (PMN-MDSC). These populations of neutrophils are primarily defined by their functional phenotype as few specific cell surface markers have been identified. In this review, we will discuss neutrophil polarization, plasticity, and the function of pro-inflammatory/anti-inflammatory and pro-tumor/anti-tumor neutrophils in the tumor microenvironment. We will also discuss how neutrophils with the ability to suppress T cell activation, referred to by some as "PMN-MDSCs", fit into this paradigm.

  • Submitted November 15, 2018.
  • Accepted December 20, 2018.