The Emerging Role of Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs) in Tumor Progression and Metastasis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs) are net-like structures composed of DNA-histone complexes and proteins released by activated neutrophils. In addition to their key role in the neutrophil innate immune response, NETs are also involved in autoimmune diseases, like systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and in other non-infectious pathological processes, as coagulation disorders, thrombosis, diabetes, atherosclerosis, vasculitis, and cancer. Recently, a large body of evidence indicates that NETs are involved in cancer progression and metastatic dissemination, both in animal models and cancer patients. Interestingly, a close correlation between cancer cell recruitment of neutrophils in the tumor microenvironment (Tumor Associated Neutrophils. TANs) and NET formation has been also observed either in primary tumors and metastatic sites. Moreover, NETs can also catch circulating cancer cells and promote metastasis. Furthermore, it has been reported that wake dormant cancer cells, causing tumor relapse and metastasis. This review will primarily focus on the pro-tumorigenic activity of NETs in tumors highlighting their ability to serve as a potential target for cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1749
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - Sep 16 2020


  • NETosis
  • neutrophil extracellular trap (NET)
  • tumor associated neutrophils (TANs)
  • tumor microenvironment (TEM)
  • tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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