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2013 | 60 | 3 | 277-284
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Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) - formation and implications

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Neutrophils are cells of the immune system which freely circulate in blood vessels and are recruited to the inflammation sites when the human organism responds to microbial infections. One of the mechanisms of neutrophil action is the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) The process of NET generation, called netosis, is a specific type of cell death, different from necrosis and apoptosis. NETs are formed by neutrophils upon contact with various bacteria or fungi as well as with activated platelets or under the influence of numerous inflammatory stimuli, and this process is associated with dramatic changes in the morphology of the cells. The main components of NETs, DNA and granular antimicrobial proteins, determine their antimicrobial properties. The pathogens trapped in NETs are killed by oxidative and non-oxidative mechanisms. On the other hand, it was also discovered that chromatin and proteases released into the circulatory system during NET formation can regulate procoagulant and prothrombotic factors and take part in clot formation in blood vessels. NETs have also been detected in lungs where they are involved in chronic inflammation processes in ALI/ARDS patients. Moreover, DNA-proteins complexes have been found in the airway fluids of cystic fibrosis patients where they can increase the viscosity of the sputum and have a negative impact on the lung functions. The DNA-complexed granular proteins and other proteins released by neutrophils during netosis lead to autoimmunity syndromes such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), small-vessel vasculitis (SVV) or autoimmune diseases associated with the formation of autoantibodies against chromatin and neutrophil components. A possible involvement of NETs in metastasis is also considered.

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  • Department of Analytical Biochemistry, Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland
  • Department of Analytical Biochemistry, Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland
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