OBJECTIVE: Neutrophils are key immune cells participating in host defense through several mechanisms, including the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). This study was undertaken to investigate the role of neutrophils in juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM). METHODS: Electron microscopy was used to identify neutrophils in tissue. NETs were also imaged using fluorescence microscopy and quantified using a myeloperoxidase-DNA enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in plasma obtained from healthy children (n = 20), disease controls (n = 29), JDM patients (n = 66), and JDM patients with history of calcifications (n = 20). Clinical data included disease activity scores and complement C4 levels. Levels of immune complexes (ICs) and calprotectin were analyzed using ELISA. RESULTS: Using electron microscopy, neutrophils were found to infiltrate affected muscle tissue, engulfing deposited calcium crystals. Uptake of the crystals led to neutrophil activation (P < 0.01) and subsequent phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase- and NADPH oxidase-dependent but peptidylarginine deiminase 4-independent formation of NETs, which contained mitochondrial DNA (P < 0.05), as confirmed in vivo (P < 0.001) and in vitro (P < 0.01). Peripheral NET levels were associated with calcinosis (P = 0.01), ICs (P = 0.008), and interleukin-8 levels (P = 0.004). Children with JDM had impaired NET clearance (P = 0.01), associated with autoantibody profiles including melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5 (P = 0.005), and depressed complement C4 levels (r = -0.72, P = 0.002). Furthermore, children with JDM showed evidence of neutrophil activation, with elevated levels of peroxidase activity (P = 0.02) and calprotectin (P < 0.01), which were associated with disease activity (P = 0.007), and dyslipidemia (odds ratio 4.7, P < 0.05). CONCLUSION: We found novel mechanisms of both calcium crystal-mediated neutrophil activation and cell death in JDM pathophysiology. Targeting this pathway may reduce the frequency and extent of calcinosis, as well as prevent long-term development of comorbidities, including atherosclerosis.