Neutrophil Extracellular Traps in Rheumatic Diseases

By definition, rheumatic diseases are disorders with the presence of inflammation, as well as the destruction of joints and internal organs. Autoantibodies targeting molecules are commonly expressed in neutrophils within these types of diseases.  

Neutrophils initiate a cell death mechanism termed neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation as a way to ensnare pathogens. In this review by Nature Reviews Rheumatologyresearchers highlight the mechanisms required for the generation of NETs and discuss the role of neutrophils and NETs in systemic lupus erythematosus, vasculitis (specifically anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody-associated vasculitis), rheumatoid arthritis and gout. 

According to the review, molecules released during neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation can often become autoantigens in systemic lupus erythematosus, small vessel vasculitis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout. These damaged tissues and organs are prone to containing NET-derived material. According to the review, neutrophils from patients with some rheumatic diseases spontaneously undergo NETosis in vitro, but “to date, whether NET formation is deleterious to progression of all rheumatic diseases is unclear,” the researchers concluded. 

SOURCE: Nature Reviews Rheumatology