The interplay between immune cells and tumor cells determines the fate of tumorigenesis. Targeting the abnormal immune response of tumors has been recently achieved great success in some patients. Emerging evidence demonstrated the nervous system plays vital roles in immune regulation, but if the nervous system affects the immune-tumor response and the possible mechanism involved remain largely unexplored. Here, we report that Schwann cells, the major component of the peripheral nervous system (PNS), induce M2 polarization of macrophages by secreting cytokines and chemokines, and these polarized macrophages promote the proliferation of lung cancer cells. We cocultured peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with Schwann cells or treated PBMCs with the culture supernatant of Schwann cells. We found that both treatments induced M2 polarization of the macrophages in peripheral blood mononuclear cell cultures. We performed a bioinformatic analysis of the transcriptome of Schwann cells and analyzed cytokines and chemokines by ELISAs. We found that Schwann cells secreted high levels of CCL2, CXCL5, CXCL12, and CXCL8. CCL2 promotes the M2 polarization of macrophages. Furthermore, we isolated CD14-positive macrophages that were cocultured with the Schwann cells and treated A549 and H1299 lung cancer cells with these macrophages. We found that the Schwann cell-polarized macrophages increased the proliferation of the lung cancer cells. Our study sheds new light on the involvement of the PNS in the regulation of tumor progression via a “Schwann cell”-“immune cell”-“tumor cell” axis.
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