Neutrophils and NETS in modulating acute and chronic inflammation

Fernanda Vargas e Silva Castanheira and Paul Kubes


Neutrophils are an absolutely essential part of the innate immune system, playing an essential role in the control of infectious diseases but more recently are also being viewed as important players in tissue repair. Neutrophils are able to counteract an infection through phagocytosis and/or the release of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). By contrast, neutrophils help repair damaged tissues limiting NET production but still phagocytosing debris. However, when inflammation is recurrent, or the inciting agent persists, neutrophils through a frustrated inability to resolve the problem can release NETs to exacerbate tissue damage during inappropriate inflammation. In this review, we will discuss the mechanisms of NET formation, as well as the apparent paradoxical role of neutrophils and NETs in host defense, chronic inflammation and tissue disrepair.

  • Submitted November 16, 2018.
  • Accepted January 18, 2019.