Metabolic requirements for neutrophil extracellular traps formation

Immunology. 2015 Jun;145(2):213-24. doi: 10.1111/imm.12437.


As part of the innate immune response, neutrophils are at the forefront of defence against infection, resolution of inflammation and wound healing. They are the most abundant leucocytes in the peripheral blood, have a short lifespan and an estimated turnover of 10(10) to 10(11) cells per day. Neutrophils efficiently clear microbial infections by phagocytosis and by oxygen-dependent and oxygen-independent mechanisms. In 2004, a new neutrophil anti-microbial mechanism was described, the release of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) composed of DNA, histones and anti-microbial peptides. Several microorganisms, bacterial products, as well as pharmacological stimuli such as PMA, were shown to induce NETs. Neutrophils contain relatively few mitochondria, and derive most of their energy from glycolysis. In this scenario we aimed to analyse some of the metabolic requirements for NET formation. Here it is shown that NETs formation is strictly dependent on glucose and to a lesser extent on glutamine, that Glut-1, glucose uptake, and glycolysis rate increase upon PMA stimulation, and that NET formation is inhibited by the glycolysis inhibitor, 2-deoxy-glucose, and to a lesser extent by the ATP synthase inhibitor oligomycin. Moreover, when neutrophils were exposed to PMA in glucose-free medium for 3 hr, they lost their characteristic polymorphic nuclei but did not release NETs. However, if glucose (but not pyruvate) was added at this time, NET release took place within minutes, suggesting that NET formation could be metabolically divided into two phases; the first, independent from exogenous glucose (chromatin decondensation) and, the second (NET release), strictly dependent on exogenous glucose and glycolysis.

Keywords: ATP synthase; cell metabolism; glycolysis; neutrophil extracellular traps; neutrophils.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogens / pharmacology
  • Deoxyglucose / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Extracellular Traps / immunology
  • Extracellular Traps / metabolism*
  • Glucose / immunology
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1 / immunology
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1 / metabolism
  • Glutamine / immunology
  • Glutamine / metabolism
  • Glycolysis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology


  • Carcinogens
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • SLC2A1 protein, human
  • Glutamine
  • Deoxyglucose
  • Glucose
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate