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Ambiguities in Neutrophil Extracellular Traps. Ongoing Concepts and Potential Biomarkers for Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Narrative Review

[ Vol. 17 , Issue. 3 ]


Andrei S. Trofimenko*, Elena E. Mozgovaya, Svetlana A. Bedina and Alexander A. Spasov   Pages 283 - 293 ( 11 )


Objective: This study aims to provide consolidation of current research findings as well as the most important concepts regarding neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) in rheumatoid arthritis.

Data Sources: Relevant publications from 2004 to 2018 were identified using PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, and eLibrary databases. Primary search terms used were “neutrophil extracellular traps” or “NETs” in combination with “rheumatoid arthritis”.

Data Synthesis: NETs are distinctive structures promoting capture and non-phagocytic cleavage of foreign substances. NETs usually consist of thin chromatin fibers decorated with various molecules of granular, cytosolic, and cytoskeletal origin. NETosis can develop in two ways: either with neutrophil death or when the viability of the cell prolongs. ROS generation and pronounced protein citrullination are essential during the initial phase of NETs formation. NETosis is considered to have certain immunological consequences, including DAMPs-mediated signalling, proinflammatory cytokine secretion, and contact of extensively modified self and foreign epitopes with antigen-presenting cells. There are several putative pathogenetic links between NETosis, citrullination, neoepitope formation, and production of anticitrullined autoantibodies that can strongly influence rheumatoid arthritis progression. NET-induced vascular injury in rheumatoid arthritis can arise directly from NETs and indirectly through enhanced thrombosis and atherosclerosis.

Conclusion: NETs are currently estimated as a possible influential factor of rheumatoid arthritis initiation and/or progression, especially in the context of vascular involvement. NETs can also serve as a source of novel antigenic biomarkers for the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.


Neutrophil extracellular traps, NETosis, polymorphonuclear cells, rheumatoid arthritis, immunology, autoimmunity, anti-citrulline antibodies.


Research Institute for Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, Volgograd, Research Institute for Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, Volgograd, Research Institute for Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, Volgograd, Volgograd State Medical University, Volgograd

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