Neutrophil extracellular traps drive inflammatory pathogenesis in malaria
Malaria is the disease caused by an infection of a mammalian host by the mosquito borne eukaryotic parasite Plasmodium. The symptoms of the disease are diverse, ranging from fever and rigor in most patients to severe damage in solid organs such as brain, lung, kidney and liver in a small fraction of the afflicted. Clinical symptoms of the disease only occur when the parasite undergoes asexual replication within the red blood cells of the host. Destruction of these cells and subsequent release
... ubsequent release of cytokines are responsible for the recurring fever cycles of mild malaria. The mechanism underlying the occurrence of tissue damage however, remain mostly elusive. The adhesion of infected red blood cells to the endothelial wall of the microvasculature in the affected organs is a necessary requirement and pathology is associated with the activation of specific immune cells residing within the blood stream. Severity of disease is linked to extracellular accumulation of neutrophil proteins. Neutrophils are abundant white blood cells, known to readily deploy an arsenal of weaponry either by degranulation or by externalization of chromatin. In this study we report a direct causal relationship between the active inflammatory neutrophil cell death (NETosis) and the development of organ damage during a Plasmodium infection. We show that NETs are released in circulation, digested by extracellular DNase and thereby supply immune activation signals that drive inflammation. The systemic dissemination of these factors leads to the release of cytokines, emergency granulopoiesis and upregulation of cellular adhesion markers on endothelial cells thereby allowing for the binding of both infected red blood cells and immune cells to the microvasculature of specific organs. Furthermore we supply evidence, that repression of NETosis or inhibition of granulopoiesis abrogate these processes and present promising therapeutic strategies.