Denervated Schwann cells attract macrophages by secretion of leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 in a process regulated by interleukin-6 and LIF.
Tofaris GK., Patterson PH., Jessen KR., Mirsky R.
Injury to peripheral nerves results in the infiltration of immune cells, which remove axonal- and myelin-derived material. Schwann cells could play a key role in this process by regulating macrophage infiltration. We show here that medium conditioned by primary denervated Schwann cells or the Schwannoma cell line RN22 produces chemotactic activity for macrophages. The presence of blocking antibodies to macrophage chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) or leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) reduced this activity to approximately 35 and 65% of control levels, respectively, and only 15% remained in the presence of both antibodies. The presence of chemotactic LIF in Schwann cell-conditioned medium was confirmed by using cells from lif-/- mice. Although interleukin-6 (IL-6) is not itself a chemotactic factor, we found that medium from il-6-/- nerves showed only 40% of the activity secreted by wild-type nerves. Furthermore, IL-6 rapidly induced LIF mRNA in primary Schwann cells, and LIF rapidly induced MCP-1 mRNA expression. Treatment of RN22 Schwannoma cells with IL-6 or LIF enhanced the secretion of the chemotactic activity of these cells. These observations show that Schwann cells attract macrophages by secreting MCP-1 and LIF. They also provide evidence for an autocrine-signaling cascade involving IL-6, LIF, and MCP-1, which amplifies the Schwann cell-derived chemotactic signals gradually, in agreement with the delayed entry of macrophages to injured nerves.