Low-density granulocytes (LDGs) are found abundantly in neonatal blood; however, there is limited mechanistic understanding of LDG interactions with bacteria and innate immune cells during acute infection. We aimed to determine how human neonatal LDGs may influence control of the bacterial burden at sites of infection, both individually and in the presence of mononuclear phagocytes. LDGs from human umbilical cord blood do phagocytose Escherichia coli O1:K1:H7 and traffic bacteria into acidic compartments. However, LDGs were significantly less efficient at bacterial uptake and killing compared to monocytes, and this activity was associated with a reduced inflammatory cytokine response. The presence of bacteria triggered the release of DNA (eDNA) from LDGs into the extracellular space that resembled neutrophil extracellular traps, but had limited anti-bacterial activity. Instead, eDNA significantly impaired monocyte control of bacteria during co-culture. These results suggest that LDG recruitment to sites of bacterial infection may compromise host protection in the neonate. Furthermore, our findings reveal novel insights into LDG activity during infection, clarify their inflammatory contributions relative to monocytes, and identify a novel LDG mechanism of immunosuppression.

This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.

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