Cell Culture Studies On Human Nerve Sheath Tumors

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The main controversy about nerve sheath tumors (NSTs) has been their histogenesis. A Schwann cell origin has been proposed by many investigators for both schwannomas and neurofibromas. However Erlandson and Woodruff1 observed that while schwannomas appeared to be composed predominantly of Schwann cells, neurofibromas consisted of mainly perineurial cells. In addition, variable numbers of fibroblast-like cells and intermediate cells also have been reported in the 2 lesions. Whether these represent distinct cell types or variants of Schwann cells is still debatable. In an attempt to solve this controversy, the present study was undertaken to observe the morphology and the behaviour of these tumors in culture. These studies showed that all nerve sheath tumors are basically of Schwann cell origin and that intermediate cells and fibroblasts are variants of Schwann cell. Tissue culture studies done chiefly on schwannomas showed that the morphological features of schwannomas are preserved in ‘in vitro culture’ condition and therefore the difference between neurofibroma and schwannoma appears to be due to inherent differentiating property of the Schwann cells along with some environmental stimulus.

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