Sensory Schwann cells set perceptual thresholds for touch and selectively regulate mechanical nociception


  • J. Ojeda-Alonso
  • L. Calvo-Enrique
  • R. Paricio-Montesinos
  • R. Kumar
  • M.D. Zhang
  • J.F.A. Poulet
  • P. Ernfors
  • G.R. Lewin


  • Nature Communications


  • Nat Commun 15 (1): 898


  • Previous work identified nociceptive Schwann cells that can initiate pain. Consistent with the existence of inherently mechanosensitive sensory Schwann cells, we found that in mice, the mechanosensory function of almost all nociceptors, including those signaling fast pain, were dependent on sensory Schwann cells. In polymodal nociceptors, sensory Schwann cells signal mechanical, but not cold or heat pain. Terminal Schwann cells also surround mechanoreceptor nerve-endings within the Meissner’s corpuscle and in hair follicle lanceolate endings that both signal vibrotactile touch. Within Meissner´s corpuscles, two molecularly and functionally distinct sensory Schwann cells positive for Sox10 and Sox2 differentially modulate rapidly adapting mechanoreceptor function. Using optogenetics we show that Meissner’s corpuscle Schwann cells are necessary for the perception of low threshold vibrotactile stimuli. These results show that sensory Schwann cells within diverse glio-neural mechanosensory end-organs are sensors for mechanical pain as well as necessary for touch perception.