International Journal of Molecular Sciences (Feb 2018)

Neutrophils: Beneficial and Harmful Cells in Septic Arthritis

  • Daiane Boff,
  • Helena Crijns,
  • Mauro M. Teixeira,
  • Flavio A. Amaral,
  • Paul Proost

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 19, no. 2
p. 468


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Septic arthritis is an inflammatory joint disease that is induced by pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus. Infection of the joint triggers an acute inflammatory response directed by inflammatory mediators including microbial danger signals and cytokines and is accompanied by an influx of leukocytes. The recruitment of these inflammatory cells depends on gradients of chemoattractants including formylated peptides from the infectious agent or dying cells, host-derived leukotrienes, complement proteins and chemokines. Neutrophils are of major importance and play a dual role in the pathogenesis of septic arthritis. On the one hand, these leukocytes are indispensable in the first-line defense to kill invading pathogens in the early stage of disease. However, on the other hand, neutrophils act as mediators of tissue destruction. Since the elimination of inflammatory neutrophils from the site of inflammation is a prerequisite for resolution of the acute inflammatory response, the prolonged stay of these leukocytes at the inflammatory site can lead to irreversible damage to the infected joint, which is known as an important complication in septic arthritis patients. Thus, timely reduction of the recruitment of inflammatory neutrophils to infected joints may be an efficient therapy to reduce tissue damage in septic arthritis.