Plexiform neurofibroma is a major contributor to morbidity in patients with neurofibromatosis type I (NF1). Macrophages and mast cells infiltrate neurofibroma, and data from mouse models implicate these leukocytes in neurofibroma development. Antiinflammatory therapy targeting these cell populations has been suggested as a means to prevent neurofibroma development. Here, we compare gene expression in Nf1-mutant nerves, which invariably form neurofibroma, and show disruption of neuron–glial cell interactions and immune cell infiltration to mouse models, which rarely progresses to neurofibroma with or without disruption of neuron–glial cell interactions. We find that the chemokine Cxcl10 is uniquely upregulated in NF1 mice that invariably develop neurofibroma. Global deletion of the CXCL10 receptor Cxcr3 prevented neurofibroma development in these neurofibroma-prone mice, and an anti–Cxcr3 antibody somewhat reduced tumor numbers. Cxcr3 expression localized to T cells and DCs in both inflamed nerves and neurofibromas, and Cxcr3 expression was necessary to sustain elevated macrophage numbers in Nf1-mutant nerves. To our knowledge, these data support a heretofore-unappreciated role for T cells and DCs in neurofibroma initiation.
Jonathan S. Fletcher, Jianqiang Wu, Walter J. Jessen, Jay Pundavela, Jacob A. Miller, Eva Dombi, Mi-Ok Kim, Tilat A. Rizvi, Kashish Chetal, Nathan Salomonis, Nancy Ratner