Schwann cell-derived periostin promotes autoimmune peripheral polyneuropathy via macrophage recruitment

J Clin Invest. 2018 Oct 1;128(10):4727-4741. doi: 10.1172/JCI99308. Epub 2018 Sep 17.


Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) and Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) are inflammatory neuropathies that affect humans and are characterized by peripheral nerve myelin destruction and macrophage-containing immune infiltrates. In contrast to the traditional view that the peripheral nerve is simply the target of autoimmunity, we report here that peripheral nerve Schwann cells exacerbate the autoimmune process through extracellular matrix (ECM) protein induction. In a spontaneous autoimmune peripheral polyneuropathy (SAPP) mouse model of inflammatory neuropathy and CIDP nerve biopsies, the ECM protein periostin (POSTN) was upregulated in affected sciatic nerves and was primarily expressed by Schwann cells. Postn deficiency delayed the onset and reduced the extent of neuropathy, as well as decreased the number of macrophages infiltrating the sciatic nerve. In an in vitro assay, POSTN promoted macrophage chemotaxis in an integrin-AM (ITGAM) and ITGAV-dependent manner. The PNS-infiltrating macrophages in SAPP-affected nerves were pathogenic, since depletion of macrophages protected against the development of neuropathy. Our findings show that Schwann cells promote macrophage infiltration by upregulating Postn and suggest that POSTN is a novel target for the treatment of macrophage-associated inflammatory neuropathies.

Keywords: Autoimmune diseases; Autoimmunity; Demyelinating disorders; Extracellular matrix; Neuroscience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD11b Antigen / genetics
  • CD11b Antigen / immunology
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / genetics
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, SCID
  • Polyradiculoneuropathy, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating / genetics
  • Polyradiculoneuropathy, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating / pathology
  • Schwann Cells / immunology*
  • Schwann Cells / pathology


  • CD11b Antigen
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Itgam protein, mouse
  • Postn protein, mouse