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Chromatin-rich smears are well-recognised artefacts in H&E sections, which may result from nuclear fragility and tissue crushing. Less well known among surgical pathologists is a novel, recently discovered form of cell death called ‘NETosis’, which at the light microscopical level closely resembles such crush artefacts.
Figure 1A shows an H&E stain of thrombus obtained from human aorta. Besides platelets, fibrin and red blood cells, this type of specimens often contain large numbers of neutrophils.1 In this image, deep purple stained treads of variable length and often clustered can be noticed, which will easily be interpreted as a crush artefact. However, these structures are, in fact, neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs).
In 2004, Brinkmann showed that …