Reciprocal interactions between cancer and Schwann cells contribute to oral cancer progression and pain

Elizabeth Salvo, Prakaimuk Saraithong, Jared G. Curtin, Malvin N. Janal, Yi Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pain associated with oral squamous cell carcinoma (oral SCC) decreases quality of life and survival. The interaction between cancer and the peripheral nerves is known to initiate and amplify pain and contribute to carcinogenesis. Schwann cells envelop peripheral nerves and are activated in response to neuronal damage. The contributions of Schwann cells to oral SCC progression and pain are unknown. Using a non-contact co-culture model, we demonstrate that Schwann cells (RSC-96) and oral SCC cells (HSC-3) reciprocally interact to promote proliferation, migration, and invasion. Schwann cell-oral SCC interaction leads to increased production of adenosine, which stimulates cell proliferation and migration of both cell types. The adenosine receptor A2B (ADORA2B) is expressed on RSC-96 cells. We show that supernatant from the RSC-96 cells co-cultured with HSC-3 cells induces increased mechanical hypersensitivity in mice compared to supernatant from control RSC-96 cells. Treatment with the ADORA2B antagonist PSB603 significantly inhibits co-culture interactions - proliferation and migration, and co-culture supernatant induced mechanical hypersensitivity. RSC-96 cells co-cultured with HSC-3 cells secrete increased amounts of the pronociceptive mediator, interleukin-6 (IL-6), which can be reduced by adding PSB603 into the co-culture. Our data support a reciprocal interaction between oral SCC and Schwann cells mediated by adenosine with potential to promote oral SCC progression and pain via increased secretion of IL-6.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01223
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Cancer research
  • Cell biology
  • Neuroscience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Reciprocal interactions between cancer and Schwann cells contribute to oral cancer progression and pain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this