The acid ceramidase/ceramide axis controls parasitemia in Plasmodium yoelii-infected mice by regulating erythropoiesis
Acid ceramidase (Ac) is part of the sphingolipid metabolism and responsible for the degradation of ceramide. As bioactive molecule, ceramide is involved in the regulation of many cellular processes. However, the impact of cell-intrinsic Ac activity and ceramide on the course of Plasmodium infection remains elusive. Here, we use Ac-deficient mice with ubiquitously increased ceramide levels to elucidate the role of endogenous Ac activity in a murine malaria model. Interestingly, ablation of Ac leads to alleviated parasitemia associated with decreased T cell responses in the early phase of Plasmodium yoelii infection. Mechanistically, we identified dysregulated erythropoiesis with reduced numbers of reticulocytes, the preferred host cells of P. yoelii, in Ac-deficient mice. Furthermore, we demonstrate that administration of the Ac inhibitor carmofur to wildtype mice has similar effects on P. yoelii infection and erythropoiesis. Notably, therapeutic carmofur treatment after manifestation of P. yoelii infection is efficient in reducing parasitemia. Hence, our results provide evidence for the involvement of Ac and ceramide in controlling P. yoelii infection by regulating red blood cell development.