Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a devastating gastrointestinal disease affecting primarily premature infants. The disease is characterized by intestinal inflammation and leucocyte infiltration, often progressing to necrosis, perforation, systemic inflammatory response and death. Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), denoting nuclear DNA, histone and antimicrobial protein release, have been suggested to play a role in NEC. This study aimed to determine the role of NETs in NEC and explore the effect of chloramidine, a NET inhibitor, on a murine NEC-like intestinal injury model. Blood and intestinal tissues were collected from infants diagnosed with ≥ Stage II NEC, and levels of nucleosomes and NETs, respectively, were compared with those of case-matched controls. In mice, NEC was induced with dithizone/Klebsiella, and mice in the treatment group received 40 mg/kg chloramidine. Bacterial load, intestinal histology, plasma myeloperoxidase and cytokine levels, and immunofluorescent staining were compared with controls. Nucleosomes were significantly elevated in both human and mouse NEC plasma, whereas NET staining was only present in NEC tissue in both species. Chloramidine treatment increased systemic inflammation, bacterial load, organ injury and mortality in murine NEC. Taken together, our findings suggest that NETs are critical in the innate immune defence during NEC in preventing systemic bacteraemia.
- necrotizing enterocolitis
- neutrophil extracellular traps