Regulation of ceramide generation during macrophage apoptosis by ASMase and de novo synthesis
The survival of macrophages depends on the presence of specific cytokines that activate survival signaling events, as well as suppressing formation of apoptosis-inducing pathways. We have previously shown that macrophages deprived of macrophage colony stimulating factor (M-CSF) produce ceramide that contributes to apoptosis of these cells, a pathway that is suppressed by exposure to oxidized LDL. In this study we have examined macrophages derived from mice lacking acid sphingomyelinase (ASMase) to ask whether these events are altered due to the impaired ability of these cells to break down sphingomyelin and produce ceramide. We found that these cells do survive better than cells from wild type mice, but they still undergo cell death and some ceramide is formed. We show that the ceramide is being produced by a de novo synthetic pathway. Therefore, ceramide production in M-CSF-deprived macrophages arises from a combination of ASMase activity and de novo synthesis.