Eosinophil Extracellular Traps and Inflammatory Pathologies—Untangling the Web!
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Eosinophils are an enigmatic white blood cell, whose immune functions are still under intense investigation. Classically, the eosinophil was considered to fulfill a protective role against parasitic infections, primarily large multicellular helminths. Although eosinophils are predominantly associated with parasite infections, evidence of a role for eosinophils in mediating immunity against bacterial, viral, and fungal infections has been recently reported. Among the mechanisms by which eosinophils are proposed to exert their protective effects is the production of DNA-based extracellular traps (ETs). Remarkably, DNA serves a role that extends beyond its biochemical function in encoding RNA and protein sequences; it is also a highly effective substance for entrapment of bacteria and other extracellular pathogens, and serves as valuable scaffolding for antimicrobial mediators such as granule proteins from immune cells. Extracellular trap formation from eosinophils appears to fulfill an important immune response against extracellular pathogens, although overproduction of traps is evident in pathologies. Here, we discuss the discovery and characterization of eosinophil extracellular traps (EETs) in response to a variety of stimuli, and suggest a role for these structures in the pathogenesis of disease as well as the establishment of autoimmunity in chronic, unresolved inflammation.
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