August 19, 2020
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Picture of neutrophils
Neutrophils are an abundant type of white blood cell that act as first-responders against infection. When overactive, they can cause excess inflammation. When dyed and viewed under a microscope, human neutrophils appear to have a grainy texture and their nucleus (blue) can take many shapes.
Credit Thai Tran, NIAMS.

NIH scientists developed and recently released a free, online data query tool called NeutGX. Researchers around the world can use NeutGX to explore the genetic basis of neutrophil-mediated inflammation in autoimmune diseases, cancer, infectious diseases and other conditions.

The free, web-based tool searches a unique dataset of gene expression levels (the transcriptome) in human neutrophils. It provides fast answers to questions such as:

  • Is my gene of interest expressed in human neutrophils in the dataset?
  • How widely does the gene’s expression vary among healthy human subjects represented in the dataset?
  • Do expression levels differ between males and females in the dataset?

NeutGX is mobile-friendly and available at https://neutgx.niaid.nih.gov.

Neutrophils are the most abundant immune cell in human blood. They play a key role in fighting infections and tissue injury and are involved in the inflammatory process. People who don’t have enough neutrophils, or whose neutrophils don’t function properly, may be more likely to get infections. People with overactive neutrophils may have chronic inflammatory diseases.

The neutrophil gene expression data displayed by NeutGX is from bulk RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) experiments performed on highly pure neutrophils obtained from peripheral blood of healthy human volunteers. Details of the methods are available in the paper, Sex differences in neutrophil biology modulate response to type I interferons and immunometabolism. Gupta S, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020. PMID: 32601182.

The tool relies on data generated by scientists in the Systemic Autoimmunity Branch at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) and was developed in collaboration with the Bioinformatics and Computational Biosciences Branch at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). For more information about NeutGX, contact neutgx@mail.nih.gov.