Neutrophil Extracellular Traps in Asthma: Friends or Foes?

Cells. 2022 Nov 7;11(21):3521. doi: 10.3390/cells11213521.


Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by variable airflow limitation and airway hyperresponsiveness. A plethora of immune and structural cells are involved in asthma pathogenesis. The roles of neutrophils and their mediators in different asthma phenotypes are largely unknown. Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) are net-like structures composed of DNA scaffolds, histones and granular proteins released by activated neutrophils. NETs were originally described as a process to entrap and kill a variety of microorganisms. NET formation can be achieved through a cell-death process, termed NETosis, or in association with the release of DNA from viable neutrophils. NETs can also promote the resolution of inflammation by degrading cytokines and chemokines. NETs have been implicated in the pathogenesis of various non-infectious conditions, including autoimmunity, cancer and even allergic disorders. Putative surrogate NET biomarkers (e.g., double-strand DNA (dsDNA), myeloperoxidase-DNA (MPO-DNA), and citrullinated histone H3 (CitH3)) have been found in different sites/fluids of patients with asthma. Targeting NETs has been proposed as a therapeutic strategy in several diseases. However, different NETs and NET components may have alternate, even opposite, consequences on inflammation. Here we review recent findings emphasizing the pathogenic and therapeutic potential of NETs in asthma.

Keywords: NETs; PMN; TSLP; VEGF; asthma; inflammation; neutrophil extracellular traps; neutrophils.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma* / pathology
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Extracellular Traps*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Neutrophils / metabolism


  • Histones
  • Biomarkers
  • DNA

Grant support

This work was supported in part by grants from the CISI-Lab Project (University of Naples Federico II) and TIMING Project and Campania Bioscience (Regione Campania).