Neutrophils rapidly undergo spontaneous apoptosis, but this process can be considerably delayed by exposure to a variety of agents such as pro-inflammatory cytokines. The anti-apoptotic protein of the Bcl-2 family, Mcl-1, plays a key role in the regulation of neutrophil apoptosis. The protein has some unusual properties compared with other family members, including an extremely high turnover rate. Many factors, such as cytokines and local oxygen concentrations, can regulate cellular levels of Mcl-1 via transcription and post-transcriptional modification, control the survival time of neutrophils within tissues and thereby influence the inflammatory response.

Abbreviations used: Bcl-2, B-cell lymphocytic-leukaemia proto-oncogene 2; BH domain, bcl-2 homology domain; IL, interleukin.

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Author notes

Apoptosis in Myeloid Cells: Molecular Insights into Disease Processes: a Biochemical Society Focused Meeting held at New Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Little France, Nr. Edinburgh, 19–20 November 2003