Polymorphonuclear (neutrophil) granulocytes (PMNs) are an essential part of the innate immune responses and key instigators and effectors of the underlying pathological mechanisms (endothelial damage, interstitial histolysis, cytokine production, phagocytosis) leading to post-injury inflammation and secondary tissue injury. In 2004, the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) was identified as an additional defence mechanism of PMN against microbes. The understanding of complex regulation of neutrophil functions and NET formation is essential for differentiating between healthy and pathological inflammatory response, which frequently determines if patient recovers uneventfully or develops catastrophic complications. Recent discoveries have revealed the potential role of NETs in the pathogenesis of a wide range of non-infectious diseases, including post-injury sterile inflammation. In such conditions, both spontaneous NET formation and impaired NETosis are documented. In this chapter, we review the evidence for the role of NETs in post-injury inflammation, the key molecular and cellular participants in pathological NET formation, the clinical relevance of NETs in post-injury complications and the therapeutic potential of NET inhibition/clearance.
Part of the book: Role of Neutrophils in Disease Pathogenesis