Neutral ceramidase regulates breast cancer progression by metabolic programming of TREM2-associated macrophages

Nat Commun. 2024 Feb 1;15(1):966. doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-45084-7.


The tumor microenvironment is reprogrammed by cancer cells and participates in all stages of tumor progression. Neutral ceramidase is a key regulator of ceramide, the central intermediate in sphingolipid metabolism. The contribution of neutral ceramidase to the reprogramming of the tumor microenvironment is not well understood. Here, we find that deletion of neutral ceramidase in multiple breast cancer models in female mice accelerates tumor growth. Our result show that Ly6C+CD39+ tumor-infiltrating CD8 T cells are enriched in the tumor microenvironment and display an exhausted phenotype. Deletion of myeloid neutral ceramidase in vivo and in vitro induces exhaustion in tumor-infiltrating Ly6C+CD39+CD8+ T cells. Mechanistically, myeloid neutral ceramidase is required for the generation of lipid droplets and for the induction of lipolysis, which generate fatty acids for fatty-acid oxidation and orchestrate macrophage metabolism. Metabolite ceramide leads to reprogramming of macrophages toward immune suppressive TREM2+ tumor associated macrophages, which promote CD8 T cells exhaustion.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Ceramides / metabolism
  • Female
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Metabolic Reprogramming
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms*
  • Neutral Ceramidase* / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Ceramides
  • Neutral Ceramidase
  • Asah2 protein, mouse