Neutrophils are a type of white blood cells and an important component of blood. Neutrophils consume dead cells, microbes and virus in the blood, thereby fighting infection till secondary immunity makes its way towards the affected area.
Latest researches on the functioning of neutrophils have discovered a peculiar defence strategy of this blood component. When any foreign body enters the blood, neutrophils form a net-like structure and trap the foreign body before it advances further. In this process, the neutrophils that are involved die, but leave the immune system at a safer side.These net-like formations are called NET (Neutrophil Extracellular Traps) and the process, NETosis. In a healthy body, this process takes place constantly, but in people with Diabetes, an imbalance in the number of NETs makes the body vulnerable to infections and ulcers, especially in feet. NETs affect people with Diabetes in two ways – either there is a sustained lack of formation of NETs resulting in susceptibility to foot ulcers or there is an excess formation of NETs which accumulates and leads to prolonged healing and a risk for cardiovascular diseases.
A significant percentage of diabetic foot ulcer cases have to undergo amputation due to ineffective pathogen resistance of the body. A recent study by Manipal University studied the biomolecules that are responsible for various health complications in Diabetes. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is responsible for building protein blocks in the body. Elevated levels of homocysteine can lead to heart attack, stroke and clotting of blood. An excessive amount of homocysteine and glucose levels in people with Diabetes hampers the body's capacity to produce neutrophils. This, in turn, affects the immune system and slows the healing of ulcers and wounds in feet.
The team of researchers at Manipal University sees a possibility of encountering the infectious bacteria by reviving the immune system. They emphasise that by understanding how neutrophils can be revived in diseases affecting the immune system, significant steps can be taken to diagnose and stimulate immunity in conditions like foot ulcers in Diabetes.