Diabetes primes neutrophils to undergo NETosis, which impairs wound healing

Siu Ling Wong, Melanie Demers, Kimberly Martinod, Maureen Gallant, Yanming Wang, Allison B. Goldfine, C. Ronald Kahn, Denisa D. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

742 Scopus citations


Wound healing is impaired in diabetes, resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. Neutrophils are the main leukocytes involved in the early phase of healing. As part of their anti-microbial defense, neutrophils form extracellular traps (NETs) by releasing decondensed chromatin lined with cytotoxic proteins. NETs, however, can also induce tissue damage. Here we show that neutrophils isolated from type 1 and type 2 diabetic humans and mice were primed to produce NETs (a process termed NETosis). Expression of peptidylarginine deiminase 4 (PAD4, encoded by Padi4 in mice), an enzyme important in chromatin decondensation, was elevated in neutrophils from individuals with diabetes. When subjected to excisional skin wounds, wild-type (WT) mice produced large quantities of NETs in wounds, but this was not observed in Padi4-/- mice. In diabetic mice, higher levels of citrullinated histone H3 (H3Cit, a NET marker) were found in their wounds than in normoglycemic mice and healing was delayed. Wound healing was accelerated in Padi4-/- mice as compared to WT mice, and it was not compromised by diabetes. DNase 1, which disrupts NETs, accelerated wound healing in diabetic and normoglycemic WT mice. Thus, NETs impair wound healing, particularly in diabetes, in which neutrophils are more susceptible to NETosis. Inhibiting NETosis or cleaving NETs may improve wound healing and reduce NET-driven chronic inflammation in diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)815-819
Number of pages5
JournalNature Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 9 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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