Programmed cell death of the normal human neutrophil: An in vitro model of senescence

Claire M. Payne, Lewis Glasser, Marc E. Tischler, Deborah Wyckoff, Douglas Cromey, Roger Fiederlein, Oliver Bohnert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


The present study provides experimental data which indicate that the neutrophil is ideal for studying programmed cell death or apoptosis in vitro. Neutrophils can be obtained from human peripheral blood in large numbers with minimal experimental manipulation and are easily separated from other leukocytes, providing nearly pure cell suspensions. The neutrophil life span in vitro is sufficiently short to allow observations to be made within eight hours after experimental manipulation. Neutrophils can also be easily maintained in serum‐free, chemically defined media which can be systematically altered, thereby defining specific variables that influence the apoptotic process. Since the neutrophils do not need an exogenous trigger to undergo programmed cell death, it is also an excellent model to study senescence. It was determined from this study that neutrophils undergo apoptosis most efficiently at 37°C, a temperature requirement for physiologic cell death. Neutrophils undergo apoptosis at a slightly faster rate and maintain membrane integrity better when incubated in a tissue culture medium (e.g., RPMI 1640) compared with a balanced salt solution (e.g., HBBB). Cycloheximide, an inhibitor of protein synthesis, was shown to accelerate apoptosis in a dose‐dependent manner. The presence of Zn++ significantly decreased the rate of apoptosis, whereas the presence of Ca++ and Mg++ had no apparent effect. These studies indicate that the process of senescence, culminating in cell death, is subject to modulation by a variety of agents and experimental conditions. In addition, the ultrastructural features of neutrophils undergoing programmed cell death in vitro were compared in detail to those occurring in vivo and were found to be comparable. © 1994 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-344
Number of pages18
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 1994


  • Aging
  • Apoptosis
  • Granulocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Instrumentation
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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