NETosis in cancer: a critical analysis of the impact of cancer on neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) release in lung cancer patients vs. mice

Ludovica Arpinati, Merav E. Shaul, Naomi Kaisar-Iluz, Shira Mali, Sojod Mahroum, Zvi G. Fridlender*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Neutrophils play a major role in tumor biology. Among other functions, neutrophils can release extracellular traps (NETs), mesh-like structures of decondensed chromatin fibers, in a process termed NETosis. Originally characterized as an antimicrobial mechanism, NETosis has been described in cancer, but cancer-related predisposition is not clear. In the current study, we investigated the predisposition of circulating neutrophils to release NETs in lung cancer and the impact of G-CSF on this function, comparing circulating neutrophils isolated from cancer patients to the LLC and AB12 mouse models. We find that neutrophils from both healthy donors and cancer patients display high NETotic potential, with 30–60% of cells undergoing NETosis upon PMA stimulation. In contrast, neutrophils isolated from tumor-bearing mice displayed only 4–5% NETotic cells, though significantly higher than naive controls (1–2%). Despite differential mechanisms of activation described, Ionomycin and PMA mainly triggered suicidal rather than vital NETosis. G-CSF secreting tumors did not increase NETotic rates in murine neutrophils, and direct G-CSF stimulation did not promote their NET release. In contrast, human neutrophils strongly responded to G-CSF stimulation resulting also in a higher response to PMA + G-CSF stimulation. Our data show clear differences in NETotic potentials between human and murine neutrophils. We do not find a predisposition of neutrophils to release NETs in lung cancer patients compared to healthy controls, whereas cancer may modulate neutrophils' NETotic potential in mice. G-CSF secreted from tumors differentially affects murine and human NETosis in cancer. These important differences should be considered in future studies of NETosis in cancer.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)199-213
Number of pages15
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • CITIM 2019
  • G-CSF
  • Lung cancer
  • Netosis
  • Neutrophils


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