Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (alloHSCT) is a life-saving procedure used for the treatment of selected hematological malignancies, inborn errors of metabolism, and bone marrow failures. The role of neutrophils in alloHSCT has been traditionally evaluated only in the context of their ability to act as a first line of defense against infection. However, recent evidence has highlighted neutrophils as key effectors of innate and adaptive immune responses through a wide array of newly discovered functions. Accordingly, neutrophils are emerging as highly versatile cells that are able to acquire different, often opposite, functional capacities depending on the microenvironment and their differentiation status. Herein, we review the current knowledge on the multiple functions that neutrophils exhibit through the different stages of alloHSCT, from the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) mobilization in the donor to the immunological reconstitution that occurs in the recipient following HSC infusion. We also discuss the influence exerted on neutrophils by the immunosuppressive drugs delivered in the course of alloHSCT as part of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) prophylaxis. Finally, the potential involvement of neutrophils in alloHSCT-related complications, such as transplant-associated thrombotic microangiopathy (TA-TMA), acute and chronic GVHD, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation, is also discussed. Based on the data reviewed herein, the role played by neutrophils in alloHSCT is far greater than a simple antimicrobial role. However, much remains to be investigated in terms of the potential functions that neutrophils might exert during a highly complex procedure such as alloHSCT.
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