CD36 tango in cancer: signaling pathways and functions

Theranostics. 2019 Jul 9;9(17):4893-4908. doi: 10.7150/thno.36037. eCollection 2019.


CD36, a scavenger receptor expressed in multiple cell types, mediates lipid uptake, immunological recognition, inflammation, molecular adhesion, and apoptosis. CD36 is a transmembrane glycoprotein that contains several posttranslational modification sites and binds to diverse ligands, including apoptotic cells, thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1), and fatty acids (FAs). Beyond fueling tumor metastasis and therapy resistance by enhancing lipid uptake and FA oxidation, CD36 attenuates angiogenesis by binding to TSP-1 and thereby inducing apoptosis or blocking the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 pathway in tumor microvascular endothelial cells. Moreover, CD36-driven lipid metabolic reprogramming and functions in tumor-associated immune cells lead to tumor immune tolerance and cancer development. Notable advances have been made in demonstrating the regulatory networks that govern distinct physiological properties of CD36, and this has identified targeting CD36 as a potential strategy for cancer treatment. Here, we provide an overview on the structure, regulation, ligands, functions, and clinical trials of CD36 in cancer.

Keywords: CD36; biomarker; cancer treatment; lipid metabolism; tumor-associated immune cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • CD36 Antigens / chemistry
  • CD36 Antigens / genetics
  • CD36 Antigens / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Oligopeptides / chemistry
  • Oligopeptides / therapeutic use
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • CD36 Antigens
  • Oligopeptides
  • SPZ1 protein, human