Neutrophil extracellular trap inhibition improves survival in neonatal mouse infectious peritonitis

Pediatr Res. 2023 Mar;93(4):862-869. doi: 10.1038/s41390-022-02219-0. Epub 2022 Jul 28.


Background: Treatment of neonatal peritonitis and sepsis is challenging. Following infection, neutrophils elaborate neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs)-extracellular lattices of decondensed chromatin decorated with antimicrobial proteins. NETs, however, can augment pathogenic inflammation causing collateral damage. We hypothesized that NET inhibition would improve survival in experimental neonatal infectious peritonitis.

Methods: We induced peritonitis in 7 to 10-day-old mice by intraperitoneal injection with cecal slurry. We targeted NETs by treating mice with neonatal NET-Inhibitory Factor (nNIF), an endogenous NET-inhibitor; Cl-amidine, a PAD4 inhibitor; DNase I, a NET degrading enzyme, or meropenem (an antibiotic). We determined peritoneal NET and cytokine levels and circulating platelet-neutrophil aggregates. Survival from peritonitis was followed for 6 days.

Results: nNIF, Cl-amidine, and DNase I decreased peritoneal NET formation and inflammatory cytokine levels at 24 h compared to controls. nNIF, Cl-amidine, and DNase I decreased circulating platelet-neutrophil aggregates, and NET-targeting treatments significantly increased survival from infectious peritonitis compared to controls. Finally, nNIF administration significantly improved survival in mice treated with sub-optimal doses of meropenem even when treatment was delayed until 2 h after peritonitis induction.

Conclusions: NET inhibition improves survival in experimental neonatal infectious peritonitis, suggesting that NETs participate pathogenically in neonatal peritonitis and sepsis.

Impact: 1. Neutrophil extracellular trap formation participates pathogenically in experimental neonatal infectious peritonitis. 2. NET-targeting strategies improve outcomes in a translational model of neonatal infectious peritonitis. 3. NET inhibition represents a potential target for drug development in neonatal sepsis and infectious peritonitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Deoxyribonuclease I / metabolism
  • Extracellular Traps* / metabolism
  • Meropenem / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Peritonitis* / drug therapy
  • Peritonitis* / metabolism
  • Peritonitis* / pathology
  • Sepsis* / drug therapy


  • Meropenem
  • Deoxyribonuclease I
  • Cytokines