The interaction between cancer cells and immune cells is important for the cancer development. However, much attention has been given to T cells and macrophages. Being the most abundant leukocytes in the blood, the functions of neutrophils in cancer have been underdetermined. They have long been considered an “audience” in the development of cancer. However, emerging evidence indicate that neutrophils are a heterogeneous population with plasticity, and subpopulation of neutrophils (such as low density neutrophils, polymorphonuclear-myeloid-derived suppressor cells) are actively involved in cancer growth and metastasis. Here, we review the current understanding of the role of neutrophils in cancer development, with a specific focus on their pro-metastatic functions. We also discuss the potential and challenges of neutrophils as therapeutic targets. A better understanding the role of neutrophils in cancer will discover new mechanisms of metastasis and develop new immunotherapies by targeting neutrophils.

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Published in Frontiers in Immunology, v. 11, article 565165.

© 2020 Wu, Ma, Tan, Zheng and Liu.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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This manuscript has been partially supported by the Susan G. Komen Foundation CCR18548501 (XL), NIH grant 5P20GM121327-04 (XL), the National Natural Science Foundation of China grants NO. 81670097 and 81870085 (HZ) and Grants for Scientific Research Enhancement of Anhui Medical University (2019xkjT004 and XJ2020019) (HZ).