CXCR4 and MIF are required for neutrophil extracellular trap release triggered by Plasmodium-infected erythrocytes

Danielle A.S. Rodrigues, Elisa B. Prestes, Andreza M.S. Gama, Leandro de Souza Silva, Ana Acácia S. Pinheiro, Jose Marcos C. Ribeiro, Raquel M.P. Campos, Pedro M. Pimentel-Coelho, Heitor S. de Souza, Alassane Dicko, Patrick E. Duffy, Michal Fried, Ivo M.B. Francischetti, Elvira M. Saraiva, Heitor A. Paula-Neto, Marcelo T. Bozza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) evolved as a unique effector mechanism contributing to resistance against infection that can also promote tissue damage in inflammatory conditions. Malaria infection can trigger NET release, but the mechanisms and consequences of NET formation in this context remain poorly characterized. Here we show that patients suffering from severe malaria had increased amounts of circulating DNA and increased neutrophil elastase (NE) levels in plasma. We used cultured erythrocytes and isolated human neutrophils to show that Plasmodium-infected red blood cells release macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), which in turn caused NET formation by neutrophils in a mechanism dependent on the C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4). NET production was dependent on histone citrullination by peptidyl arginine deiminase-4 (PAD4) and independent of reactive oxygen species (ROS), myeloperoxidase (MPO) or NE. In vitro, NETs functioned to restrain parasite dissemination in a mechanism dependent on MPO and NE activities. Finally, C57/B6 mice infected with P. berghei ANKA, a well-established model of cerebral malaria, presented high amounts of circulating DNA, while treatment with DNAse increased parasitemia and accelerated mortality, indicating a role for NETs in resistance against Plasmodium infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1008230
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


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