11 January 2019

Neutrophils can produce Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs), which are web-like structures consisting of chromatin aimed to capture pathogens. NETs appear to play a role in several diseases including rheumatic autoimmune diseases. Although NET formation was originally described as a NADPH oxidase (NOX)-dependent pathway, it appears that there are also NOX-independent pathways of NET release. Currently, no tools are available that can discriminate between different NET-forming pathways.

Johan van der Vlag, theme Renal disorders, and colleagues, developed a novel method that allows the discrimination of NETs generated through NOX-dependent or NOX-independent pathways. Using this novel NET assay they showed the presence of different types of NETs in the blood of patients with various diseases.

Furthermore, they showed that NOX-dependent and NOX-independent NETs differ in their endothelial cell stimulatory capacity. These results indicate heterogeneity in NET-forming pathways in vivo and highlight the need for disease-specific strategies to prevent NET-mediated pathology.Their findings were recently published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, the highest ranking journal in the field of Rheumatology.

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