CD36 in chronic kidney disease: novel insights and therapeutic opportunities

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| CD36 (also known as scavenger receptor B2) is a multifunctional receptor that mediates the binding and cellular uptake of long-chain fatty acids, oxidized lipids and phospholipids, advanced oxidation protein products, thrombospondin and advanced glycation end products, and has roles in lipid accumulation, inflammatory signalling, energy reprogramming, apoptosis and kidney fibrosis. Renal CD36 is mainly expressed in tubular epithelial cells, podocytes and mesangial cells, and is markedly upregulated in the setting of chronic kidney disease (CKD). As fatty acids are the preferred energy source for proximal tubule cells, a reduction in fatty acid oxidation in CKD affects kidney lipid metabolism by disrupting the balance between fatty acid synthesis, uptake and consumption. The outcome is intracellular lipid accumulation, which has an important role in the pathogenesis of kidney fibrosis. In experimental models, antagonist blockade or genetic knockout of CD36 prevents kidney injury, suggesting that CD36 could be a novel target for therapy. Here, we discuss the regulation and post-translational modification of CD36, its role in renal pathophysiology and its potential as a biomarker and as a therapeutic target for the prevention of kidney fibrosis.

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