Neutrophils in Tuberculosis: Cell Biology, Cellular Networking and Multitasking in Host Defense
Neutrophils readily infiltrate infection foci, phagocytose and usually destroy microbes. In tuberculosis (TB), a chronic pulmonary infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), neutrophils harbor bacilli, are abundant in tissue lesions, and their abundances in blood correlate with poor disease outcomes in patients. The biology of these innate immune cells in TB is complex. Neutrophils have been assigned host-beneficial as well as deleterious roles. The short lifespan of neutrophils purified from blood poses challenges to cell biology studies, leaving intracellular biological processes and the precise consequences of Mtb–neutrophil interactions ill-defined. The phenotypic heterogeneity of neutrophils, and their propensity to engage in cellular cross-talk and to exert various functions during homeostasis and disease, have recently been reported, and such observations are newly emerging in TB. Here, we review the interactions of neutrophils with Mtb, including subcellular events and cell fate upon infection, and summarize the cross-talks between neutrophils and lung-residing and -recruited cells. We highlight the roles of neutrophils in TB pathophysiology, discussing recent findings from distinct models of pulmonary TB, and emphasize technical advances that could facilitate the discovery of novel neutrophil-related disease mechanisms and enrich our knowledge of TB pathogenesis.