Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 371, Issue 3, pp 517–529 | Cite as

The complex interplay between neutrophils and cancer



Neutrophils are the most abundant type of white blood cell, and are an essential component of the innate immune system. They characteristically arrive rapidly at sites of infection and injury, and release a variety of cytokines and toxic molecules to eliminate pathogens and elicit an acute inflammatory response. Research into the function of neutrophils in cancer suggest they have divergent roles. Indeed, while most studies have found neutrophils to be associated with cancer progression, others have also documented anticancer effects. In this review, we describe the investigations into neutrophil populations that have been implicated in promoting tumor growth and metastasis as well those demonstrating antitumor functions. The collective research suggests a complex role for neutrophils in cancer biology, which raises the prospect of their targeting for the treatment of cancer.


Tumor-associated neutrophils Cancer biomarker Neutrophil polarization Immunosuppression Metastasis Neutrophil targeted therapies 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Rakic
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Paul Beaudry
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Douglas J. Mahoney
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Alberta Children’s Hospital Research InstituteCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Charbonneau Cancer Research InstituteCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Department of Medical Sciences, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  4. 4.Department of Pediatric Surgery, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  5. 5.Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Disease, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  6. 6.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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