One of the body's tools for fighting off infection in a wound may actually slow down the healing process, according to new research published online in Nature Medicine on June 15, 2015, by a team that includes scientists at Penn State University, Harvard University, and Boston Children's Hospital. The researchers have speeded up wound healing in diabetic mice by preventing immune cells called neutrophils from producing structures called NETs (neutrophil extracellular traps) that trap and kill bacteria.
In this image the structure colored in blue is chromatin -- the condensed form of DNA that the cell remodels to form chromosomes. The enzyme PAD4 decondenses chromatin by loosening up the interaction between DNA and special proteins called histones. The histones modified by PAD4 are shown in fuchsia. This process helps to form both a bacteria-killing NET -- which is comprised of infection-combatting white blood cells called neutrophils -- and the fluffy, scattered ball that comprises a blood clot.