Pronociceptive Roles of Schwann Cell-Derived Galectin-3 in Taxane-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

Cancer Res. 2021 Apr 15;81(8):2207-2219. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-20-2799. Epub 2021 Feb 19.


Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a severe dose-limiting side effect of taxanes such as paclitaxel and docetaxel. Despite the high medical needs, insufficient understanding of the complex mechanism underlying CIPN pathogenesis precludes any endorsed causal therapy to prevent or relieve CIPN. In this study, we report that elevation of plasma galectin-3 level is a pathologic change common to both patients with taxane-treated breast cancer with CIPN and a mouse model of taxane-related CIPN. Following multiple intraperitoneal injections of paclitaxel in mice, galectin-3 levels were elevated in Schwann cells within the sciatic nerve but not in other peripheral organs or cells expressing galectin-3. Consistent with this, paclitaxel treatment of primary cultures of rat Schwann cells induced upregulation and secretion of galectin-3. In vitro migration assays revealed that recombinant galectin-3 induced a chemotactic response of the murine macrophage cell line RAW 264.7. In addition, perineural administration of galectin-3 to the sciatic nerve of naive mice mimicked paclitaxel-induced macrophage infiltration and mechanical hypersensitivity. By contrast, chemical depletion of macrophages by clodronate liposomes suppressed paclitaxel-induced mechanical hypersensitivity despite the higher level of plasma galectin-3. Deficiency (Galectin-3 -/- mice) or pharmacologic inhibition of galectin-3 inhibited paclitaxel-induced macrophage infiltration and mechanical hypersensitivity. In conclusion, we propose that Schwann cell-derived galectin-3 plays a pronociceptive role via macrophage infiltration in the pathogenesis of taxane-induced peripheral neuropathy. Therapies targeting this phenomenon, which is common to patients with CIPN and mouse models, represent a novel approach to suppress taxane-related CIPN. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings demonstrate that the elevation of plasma galectin-3 is a CIPN-related pathologic change common to humans and mice, and that targeting galectin-3 is a therapeutic option to delay CIPN progression.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / adverse effects
  • Blood Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Blood Proteins / pharmacology
  • Blood Proteins / physiology
  • Cell Movement
  • Chemotaxis
  • Clodronic Acid / pharmacology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Docetaxel / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Galectins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Galectins / blood*
  • Galectins / pharmacology
  • Galectins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Paclitaxel / adverse effects
  • Pain Perception / physiology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / blood
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / prevention & control
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rats
  • Schwann Cells / drug effects
  • Schwann Cells / metabolism*
  • Sciatic Nerve / cytology
  • Sciatic Nerve / drug effects
  • Sciatic Nerve / metabolism*
  • Up-Regulation


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Blood Proteins
  • Galectins
  • LGALS3 protein, human
  • Clodronic Acid
  • Docetaxel
  • Paclitaxel