Research Highlights

Vascular biology: Clot catcher

Nets of DNA fibres and antimicrobial proteins in blood vessels ensnare and kill microbes during infection, and may also provide a scaffold for blood clots.

The immune system relies on these meshes, known as neutrophil extracellular traps, to fight infection. Denisa Wagner of the Immune Disease Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, and her colleagues found that the nets (pictured in blue) also catch platelets — cell fragments that aid in blood clotting (green).

The nets bound additional proteins known to stabilize clots, and DNA markers of the nets were found in the blood and clots of baboons with deep-vein thrombosis — a condition in which blood clots form in deep-seated veins. This finding could explain the link that has been made in humans between this condition and infection.

Image: NATL. ACAD. SCI.

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