Neutrophil extracellular traps: protagonists of cancer progression?

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Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) are a defense mechanism first described to trap and kill bacteria and other pathogens. Increasingly, however, their involvement in the pathogenesis of inflammatory and malignant diseases is being recognized. Several recent studies have suggested important roles of NETs in tumor progression, metastasis and tumor-associated thrombosis. Although systematic studies to address the role of NETs in tumor development are still scarce, we will explore the emerging evidence for NETs as potential protagonists in malignant disease and highlight the mechanisms through which these effects may be exerted. Future questions arising from our current knowledge of direct and indirect interactions between NETs and cancer cells will be outlined and we will explore NETs as candidate pharmaceutical targets in cancer patients.

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