Scavenger receptor CD36 expression contributes to adipose tissue inflammation and cell death in diet-induced obesity

PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e36785. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036785. Epub 2012 May 16.


Objective: The enlarged adipose tissue in obesity is characterized by inflammation, including the recruitment and infiltration of macrophages and lymphocytes. The objective of this study was to investigate the role of the scavenger receptor CD36 in high fat diet-induced obesity and adipose tissue inflammation and cell death.

Experimental approach: Obesity and adipose tissue inflammation was compared in CD36 deficient (CD36 KO) mice and wild type (WT) mice fed a high fat diet (60% kcal fat) for 16 weeks and the inflammatory response was studied in primary adipocytes and macrophages isolated from CD36 KO and WT mice.

Results: Compared to WT mice, CD36 KO mice fed a high fat diet exhibited reduced adiposity and adipose tissue inflammation, with decreased adipocyte cell death, pro-inflammatory cytokine expression and macrophage and T-cell accumulation. In primary cell culture, the absence of CD36 expression in macrophages decreased pro-inflammatory cytokine, pro-apoptotic and ER stress gene expression in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Likewise, CD36 deficiency in primary adipocytes reduced pro-inflammatory cytokine and chemokine secretion in response to LPS. Primary macrophage and adipocyte co-culture experiments showed that these cell types act synergistically in their inflammatory response to LPS and that CD36 modulates such synergistic effects.

Conclusions: CD36 enhances adipose tissue inflammation and cell death in diet-induced obesity through its expression in both macrophages and adipocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / pathology*
  • Animals
  • CD36 Antigens / metabolism*
  • Cell Death*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Diet*
  • Mice
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / pathology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • CD36 Antigens