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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2 (2002), Issue 1, Pages 14-21
Research article

CD36 mRNA and Protein Expression Levels Are Significantly Increased in the Heart and Testis of apoE Deficient Mice in Comparison to Wild Type (C57BL/6)

1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) U331, Faculté de Médecine RTH Laënnec, Lyon, France
2Thrombosis Research Institute (TRI), Emmanuel Kaye Building, Post-Genomics Atherothrombosis Laboratory, Manresa Road, London SW3 6LR, UK

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


CD36, an 88kd-adhesion molecule, plays a major role as a scavenging receptor implicated in cellular lipid metabolism. Secretory mammary epithelium, microvasculature endothelium, adipocytes, smooth muscle cells, and platelets express CD36. In addition, CD36 expression is significantly enhanced in macrophages differentiating into foam cells. The effect of pathological levels of cholesterol, as observed in apoE−/−, on vascular CD36 expression is, at this stage, not known. In this study, a quantitative analysis of CD36 transcription and protein expression levels, present in tissues of male C57BL/6 and apolipoprotein-E (apoE) deficient mice was carried out by Northern and Western blots. Four-week-old animals were fed a chow diet over different periods of time (0, 6, 16, or 20 weeks). Immunohistochemistry was used to localize CD36 protein expression in the heart and testis. Results indicate that CD36 transcription is increased in hearts of apoE deficient animals (100% higher at 6 weeks, and 30% higher at 16 and 20 weeks) in comparison to wild type. This was confirmed at the protein level, which showed an increase of at least 100% at 6 weeks, and between 40% to 50% increase at 16 and 20 weeks of apoE−/− mice compared to controls. In addition, CD36 transcription levels were significantly increased in testis of apoE animals (at least 100% at 6, 16, and 20 weeks) compared to C57BL/6 wild type. Such an increase was also confirmed at the protein level (65% increase at 16 weeks in apoE mice compared to control). Finally, localization of CD36 protein expression by immunohistochemistry showed that it was expressed in the capillaries of heart and testis endothelial cells and also at the head of spermatozoid during spermatogenesis. These results indicate that high circulating cholesterol levels, in apoE deficient mice, significantly enhance the expression of CD36 in the heart and testis. Such enhanced CD36 expression might lead to organ remodeling and/or dysfunction.