The twilight zone: plasticity and mixed ontogeny of neutrophil and eosinophil granulocyte subsets

Sergejs Berdnikovs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


It is now becoming clear that neutrophils and eosinophils are heterogeneous cells with potentially multiple subsets in health and disease. With greater marker coverage by multi-color flow cytometry and single-cell level sequencing of granulocyte populations, novel phenotypes of these cells began to emerge. Intriguingly, many newly described subsets blend distinctions between classical myeloid lineage phenotypes, which are especially true for tissue resident or recruited cells in contexts of inflammation and disease. This includes reports of neutrophils with features of eosinophils, monocytes and dendritic cells, and eosinophil subsets expressing neutrophil markers. Moreover, novel studies show the ability of immature neutrophils to transdifferentiate into mature cells belonging to other myeloid lineages (eosinophils, monocytes/macrophages). In this review, we summarize novel findings in this exciting research frontier and shed light on potential processes driving the plasticity and heterogeneity of granulocyte subsets. Specifically, we discuss the hematopoietic flexibility of granulocyte precursors in bone marrow and the adaptation of myeloid cells to local tissue microenvironments. The understanding of such intermediate and developmental phenotypes is very important, as it can teach us about origins of functionally distinct myeloid cells during inflammation, and explain reasons for successes and failures of biologics targeting terminally differentiated granulocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-346
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Immunopathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Bone marrow
  • Eosinophils
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Heterogeneity
  • Macrophages
  • Monocytes
  • Myeloid cells
  • Neutrophils
  • Plasticity
  • Single-cell sequencing
  • Subsets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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