Single-cell transcriptomes reveal the heterogeneity and microenvironment of vestibular schwannoma

Neuro Oncol. 2024 Mar 4;26(3):444-457. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/noad201.


Background: Vestibular schwannoma (VS) is the most common benign tumor in the cerebellopontine angle and internal auditory canal. Illustrating the heterogeneous cellular components of VS could provide insights into its various growth patterns.

Methods: Single-cell RNA sequencing was used to profile transcriptomes from 7 VS samples and 2 normal nerves. Multiplex immunofluorescence was employed to verify the data set results. Bulk RNA sequencing was conducted on 5 normal nerves and 44 VS samples to generate a prediction model for VS growth.

Results: A total of 83 611 cells were annotated as 14 distinct cell types. We uncovered the heterogeneity in distinct VS tumors. A subset of Schwann cells with the vascular endothelial growth factor biomarker was significantly associated with fast VS growth through mRNA catabolism and peptide biosynthesis. The macrophages in the normal nerves were largely of the M2 phenotype, while no significant differences in the proportions of M1 and M2 macrophages were found between slow-growing and fast-growing VS. The normal spatial distribution of fibroblasts and vascular cells was destroyed in VS. The communications between Schwann cells and vascular cells were strengthened in VS compared with those in the normal nerve. Three cell clusters were significantly associated with fast VS growth and could refine the growth classification in bulk RNA.

Conclusions: Our findings offer novel insights into the VS microenvironment at the single-cell level. It may enhance our understanding of the different clinical phenotypes of VS and help predict growth characteristics. Molecular subtypes should be included in the treatment considerations.

Keywords: heterogeneity; molecular subtypes; single-cell RNA sequencing; tumor microenvironment; vestibular schwannoma (VS).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neuroma, Acoustic* / pathology
  • Schwann Cells / metabolism
  • Schwann Cells / pathology
  • Transcriptome
  • Tumor Microenvironment
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism


  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE230375