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Web of Neutrophil DNA

Neutrophils may contribute their DNA to the cement that holds gallstones together, according to New Scientist.

As Discover's D-brief blog notes, physicians have known that gallstones arise then there are high levels of cholesterol and calcium salts in the bile, but that what then holds the stones together has been unclear. Researchers from Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany examined gallstones acquired from people undergoing surgery and report in the journal Immunity that the formation of gallstones requires neutrophil extracellular traps (NET), web-like structures of DNA and other molecules that typically bind invading microbes.

“When [neutrophils] find suspicious matter, for example the crystals that form gallstones, they tend to eject their DNA and hog-tie the material,” senior author Martin Herrmann from FAU tells New Scientist.

He and his further report that inhibiting the formation of NETs reduced gallstone development in mice, but note that further clinical studies are needed. "Hopefully, we can convince pharmaceutical companies to perform a clinical study with inhibitors of NET formation or NET aggregation," co-first author Luis Muñoz, also from FAU, says in a statement.