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PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e22043. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022043. Epub 2011 Jul 11.

PAD4-mediated neutrophil extracellular trap formation is not required for immunity against influenza infection.

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Department of Chemical Physiology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, United States of America.


During an inflammatory response, neutrophils migrate to the site of infection where they can kill invading pathogens by phagocytosis, secretion of anti-microbicidal mediators or the release of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). NETs are specialized anti-microbial structures comprised of decondensed chromatin decorated with microbicidal agents. Increased amount of NETs have been found in patients suffering from the chronic lung inflammatory disease cystic fibrosis, correlating with increased severity of pulmonary obstruction. Furthermore, acute lung inflammation during influenza A infection is characterized by a massive influx of neutrophils into the lung. The role of NETs during virus-mediated lung inflammation is unknown. Peptidylarginine deiminase 4 (PAD4)-mediated deimination of histone H3 and H4 is required for NET formation. Therefore, we generated a PAD4-deficient mouse strain that has a striking inability to form NETs. These mice were infected with influenza A/WSN, and the disease was monitored at the level of leukocytic lung infiltration, lung pathology, viral replication, weight loss and mortality. PAD4 KO fared comparable to WT mice in all the parameters tested, but they displayed slight but statistically different weight loss kinetics during infection that was not reflected in enhanced survival. Overall, we conclude that PAD4-mediated NET formation is dispensable in a mouse model of influenza A infection.

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