Extracellular DNA traps are part of the innate immune response and are seen with many infectious, allergic, and autoimmune diseases. They can be generated by several different leukocytes, including neutrophils, eosinophils, and monocytes, as well as mast cells. Here, we review the composition of these extracellular DNA-containing structures as well as potential mechanisms for their production and function. In general, extracellular DNA traps have been described as binding to and killing pathogens, particularly bacteria, fungi, but also parasites. On the other hand, it is possible that DNA traps contribute to immunopathology in chronic inflammatory diseases, such as bronchial asthma. In addition, it has been demonstrated that they can initiate and/or potentiate autoimmune diseases. Extracellular DNA traps represent a frequently observed phenomenon in inflammatory diseases, and they appear to participate in the cross-talk between different immune cells. These new insights into the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases may open new avenues for targeted therapies.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.