Neutrophils play an important role in immune defence against several pathogens. These cells actively participate in the innate immune response through different functions, such as chemotaxis, phagocytosis, oxidative burst and degranulation, which have been widely studied. However, in the last few years, a new function has been described; activated neutrophils are able to release web-like chromatin structures known as neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). These structures formed by DNA, histones, and proteins, immobilize and kill microorganisms. Disruption in NET formation is associated with the pathophysiology of several disorders, including the autoimmune diseases. NETs are an important source of the autoantigens involved in the production of autoantibodies and maintenance of the inflammatory milieu. This review provides a summary of the contribution of NETs to the pathogenesis of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies-associated vasculitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis. The preliminary findings on NETs components in Sjögren's syndrome will also be described.
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