Research ArticleINFECTIOUS DISEASES

Neutrophil extracellular traps drive inflammatory pathogenesis in malaria

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Science Immunology  18 Oct 2019:
Vol. 4, Issue 40, eaaw0336
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aaw0336

Neutrophil-derived NETs make malaria worse

The role of neutrophils in the inflammation and tissue pathology associated with malaria infection is poorly understood. Knackstedt et al. used samples from patients infected with the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, as well as a mouse model of malaria, to investigate the contributions of neutrophils and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) to disease pathogenesis. Heme released from parasitized red blood cells induced formation of intravascular NETs, leading to an increase in emergency granulopoiesis and an enhancement in the capacity of endothelial cells to bind infected erythrocytes. These findings demonstrate that neutrophil-derived NETs exacerbate malarial immunopathology, opening the door to targeting NETs as part of human malaria therapy.

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