Neutrophils dominate the early immune response in pathogen-induced acute lung injury, but efforts to harness their responses have not led to therapeutic advancements. Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) have been proposed as an innate defense mechanism responsible for pathogen clearance, but there are concerns that NETs may induce collateral damage to host tissues. Here, we detected NETs in abundance in mouse models of severe bacterial pneumonia/acute lung injury and in human subjects with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) from pneumonia or sepsis. Decreasing NETs reduced lung injury and improved survival after DNase I treatment or with partial protein arginine deiminase 4 deficiency (PAD4+/–). Complete PAD4 deficiency (PAD4–/–) reduced NETs and lung injury but was counterbalanced by increased bacterial load and inflammation. Importantly, we discovered that the lipoxin pathway could be a potent modulator of NET formation, and that mice deficient in the lipoxin receptor (Fpr2–/–) produced excess NETs leading to increased lung injury and mortality. Lastly, we observed in humans that increased plasma NETs were associated with ARDS severity and mortality, and lower plasma DNase I levels were associated with the development of sepsis-induced ARDS. We conclude that a critical balance of NETs is necessary to prevent lung injury and to maintain microbial control, which has important therapeutic implications.
Emma Lefrançais, Beñat Mallavia, Hanjing Zhuo, Carolyn S. Calfee, Mark R. Looney
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.