Immunology

Gallstones—a force of NETure?

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Science  18 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6463, pp. 321-322
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6463.321-d

Gallstones are a painful and sometimes fatal condition that is one of the leading causes of hospitalization in the United States. They are thought to form when bile is concentrated and acidified in the gallbladder, leading to the supersaturation and subsequent precipitation of cholesterol and calcium salts. Muñoz et al. report that neutrophils release neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) after interacting with calcium or cholesterol crystals. These NETs contain extracellular DNA and elastase, which help fuel crystallization and gallstone assembly. Mice with defects in pathways required for NET formation were found to have gallstones of reduced size and number. One future therapeutic target for this condition may therefore lie in preventing neutrophils from casting their NETs.

Immunity 51, 443 (2019).

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