Lactate-Lactylation Hands between Metabolic Reprogramming and Immunosuppression

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Oct 8;23(19):11943. doi: 10.3390/ijms231911943.


Immune evasion and metabolic reprogramming are two fundamental hallmarks of cancer. Interestingly, lactate closely links them together. However, lactate has long been recognized as a metabolic waste product. Lactate and the acidification of the tumor microenvironment (TME) promote key carcinogenesis processes, including angiogenesis, invasion, metastasis, and immune escape. Notably, histone lysine lactylation (Kla) was identified as a novel post-modification (PTM), providing a new perspective on the mechanism by which lactate functions and providing a promising and potential therapy for tumors target. Further studies have confirmed that protein lactylation is essential for lactate to function; it involves important life activities such as glycolysis-related cell functions and macrophage polarization. This review systematically elucidates the role of lactate as an immunosuppressive molecule from the aspects of lactate metabolism and the effects of histone lysine or non-histone lactylation on immune cells; it provides new ideas for further understanding protein lactylation in elucidating lactate regulation of cell metabolism and immune function. We explored the possibility of targeting potential targets in lactate metabolism for cancer treatment. Finally, it is promising to propose a combined strategy inhibiting the glycolytic pathway and immunotherapy.

Keywords: immune evasion; immunotherapy; lactate; lactylation; metabolic reprogramming.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Histones
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes*
  • Immunosuppression Therapy
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism
  • Lysine
  • Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment
  • Waste Products


  • Histones
  • Waste Products
  • Lactic Acid
  • Lysine