Chinese medical journal 130(6) 730-736 doi 10.4103/0366-6999.201608
Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are representative chronic inflammatory airway diseases responsible for a considerable burden of disease. In this article, we reviewed the relationship between neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) and chronic inflammatory airway diseases.
Articles published up to January 1, 2017, were selected from the PubMed, Ovid Medline, Embase databases, with the keywords of "asthma" or "pulmonary disease, chronic obstructive", "neutrophils" and "extracellular traps."
Articles were obtained and reviewed to analyze the role of NETs in asthma and COPD.
NETs are composed of extracellular DNA, histones, and granular proteins, which are released from activated neutrophils. Multiple studies have indicated that there are a large amount of NETs in the airways of asthmatics and COPD patients. NETs can engulf and kill invading pathogens in the host. However, disordered regulation of NET formation has shown to be involved in the development of asthma and COPD. An overabundance of NETs in the airways or lung tissue could cause varying degrees of damage to lung tissues by inducing the death of human epithelial and endothelial cells, and thus resulting in impairing pulmonary function and accelerating the progress of the disease.
Excessive NETs accumulate in the airways of asthmatics and COPD patients. Although NETs play an essential role in the innate immune system against infection, excessive components of NETs can cause lung tissue damage and accelerate disease progression in asthmatics and COPD patients. These findings suggest that administration of NETs could be a novel approach to treat asthma and COPD. Mechanism studies, clinical practice, and strategies to regulate neutrophil activation or directly interrupt NET function in asthmatics and COPD patients are desperately needed.