Neutrophil extracellular traps in vasculitis, friend or foe?

Daniel Söderberg, Mårten Segelmark

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of review Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) can be found at the sites of vascular lesions and in the circulation of patients with active small vessel vasculitis. Neutrophils from vasculitis patients release more NETs in vitro, and NETs have properties that can harm the vasculature both directly and indirectly. There are several ways to interfere with NET formation, which open for new therapeutic options. However, there are several types of NETs and different mechanisms of NET formation, and these might have different effects on inflammation. Here we review recent findings regarding the pathogenesis and therapeutic potentials of NETs in vasculitis. Recent findings Experimental mouse models support a role for NETs in promoting vascular damage, where histones and mitochondrial DNA appear to be driving forces. Impaired formation of NETs, however, in an SLE-like mouse model leads to more severe disease, suggesting that NETs can be important in limiting inflammation. Studies on drug-induced vasculitis reveal that levamisole can induce NETosis via muscarinic receptors, predisposing for the generation of autoantibodies, including antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies (ANCA). This supports the notion that NETs can bridge the innate and adaptive immune systems. Summary NETs can participate in the pathogenesis of vasculitis, but in some models there also seem to be protective effects of NETs. This complexity needs further evaluation with experimental models that are as specific as possible for human primary vasculitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-23
JournalCurrent Opinion in Rheumatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies
  • autoantigens
  • inflammation
  • neutrophil extracellular traps
  • vasculitis


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