Neutrophilic asthma (NA) is a distinct airway inflammation disease with prominent neutrophil infiltration. The role played by neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) in NA, however, is quite unclear. This study was based on the hypothesis that NETs are responsible for the second neutrophil wave and therefore contribute significantly to inflammation. The proinflammatory effects of NETs were evaluated in vitro and in vivo. Formation of NETs and neutrophil swarming was seen in a mouse model of NA. Additionally, NETs were found to stimulate airway cells to express CXCL1, CXCL2, and CXCL8 via the TLR4/NF-κB pathway, which recruits neutrophils to the inflammation site. Furthermore, prevention of NET formation decreased the recruitment of lung neutrophils and hence reduce neutrophilic inflammation. Additionally, the structural integrity of NETs had no effect on the recruitment of lung neutrophils and neutrophilic inflammation. In NA mice, NETs could trigger airway and alveolar epithelial cells to express chemokines which recruit more neutrophils via activation of the TLR4/NF-κB pathway.
Keywords: airway inflammation; chemotaxis; neutrophil extracellular traps; neutrophilic asthma.