An inflammatory gene signature distinguishes neurofibroma Schwann cells and macrophages from cells in the normal peripheral nervous system.

Choi K, Komurov K, Fletcher JS, Jousma E, Cancelas JA, Wu J, Ratner N
Sci Rep 7 43315 01/03/2017


Neurofibromas are benign peripheral nerve tumors driven by NF1 loss in Schwann cells (SCs). Macrophages are abundant in neurofibromas, and macrophage targeted interventions may have therapeutic potential in these tumors. We generated gene expression data from fluorescence-activated cell sorted (FACS) SCs and macrophages from wild-type and mutant nerve and neurofibroma to identify candidate pathways involved in SC-macrophage cross-talk. While in 1-month-old Nf1 mutant nerve neither SCs nor macrophages significantly differed from their normal counterparts, both macrophages and SCs showed significantly altered cytokine gene expression in neurofibromas. Computationally reconstructed SC-macrophage molecular networks were enriched for inflammation-associated pathways. We verified that neurofibroma SC conditioned medium contains macrophage chemo-attractants including colony stimulation factor 1 (CSF1). Network analysis confirmed previously implicated pathways and predict novel paracrine and autocrine loops involving cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors. Network analysis also predicted a central role for decreased type-I interferon signaling. We validated type-I interferon expression in neurofibroma by protein profiling, and show that treatment of neurofibroma-bearing mice with polyethylene glycolyated (PEGylated) type-I interferon-α2b reduces the expression of many cytokines overexpressed in neurofibroma. These studies reveal numerous potential targetable interactions between Nf1 mutant SCs and macrophages for further analyses.

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