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The multifunctional membrane glycoprotein CD36 is expressed in different types of cells and plays a key regulatory role in cellular lipid metabolism. CD36 facilitates the cellular uptake of long-chain fatty acids, mediates lipid signaling, and regulates storage and oxidation of lipids in various tissues with active lipid metabolism. CD36 deficiency leads to marked impairments in peripheral lipid metabolism, which consequently impacts on the cellular utilization of multiple different fuels, due to the integrated nature of metabolism. The functional presence of CD36 at the plasma membrane is regulated by its reversible subcellular recycling from and to endosomes, and is under the control of mechanical, hormonal and nutritional factors. Aberrations in this dynamic role of CD36 are causally associated with various metabolic diseases, in particular insulin resistance, diabetic cardiomyopathy, and cardiac hypertrophy. Recent research in cardiac muscle has disclosed the endosomal proton pump v-ATPase as a key enzyme regulating subcellular CD36 recycling and being the site of interaction between various substrates to determine cellular substrate preference. In addition, evidence is accumulating that interventions targeting CD36 directly or modulating its subcellular recycling are effective for the treatment of metabolic diseases. In conclusion, subcellular CD36 localization is the major adaptive regulator of cellular uptake and metabolism of long-chain fatty acids, and appears a suitable target for metabolic modulation therapy to mend failing hearts.

Original publication




Journal article


Physiol Rev

Publication Date



CD36, SR-B2, fatty acid uptake, lipid metabolism, metabolic disease