Background & Aims CD36 has immunometabolic actions and is abundant in the small intestine on epithelial, endothelial, and immune cells. We examined the role of CD36 in gut homeostasis by using mice null for CD36 (CD36KO) and with CD36 deletion specific to enterocytes (Ent-CD36KO) or endothelial cells (EC-CD36KO). Methods Intestinal morphology was evaluated by using immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy. Intestinal inflammation was determined from neutrophil infiltration and expression of cytokines, toll-like receptors, and cyclooxygenase-2. Barrier integrity was assessed from circulating lipopolysaccharide and dextran administered intragastrically. Epithelial permeability to luminal dextran was visualized by using two-photon microscopy. Results The small intestines of CD36KO mice fed a chow diet showed several abnormalities including extracellular matrix accumulation with increased expression of extracellular matrix proteins, evidence of neutrophil infiltration, inflammation, and compromised barrier function. Electron microscopy showed shortened desmosomes with decreased desmocollin 2 expression. Systemically, leukocytosis and neutrophilia were present together with 80% reduction of anti-inflammatory Ly6Clow monocytes. Bone marrow transplants supported the primary contribution of non-hematopoietic cells to the inflammatory phenotype. Specific deletion of endothelial but not of enterocyte CD36 reproduced many of the gut phenotypes of germline CD36KO mice including fibronectin deposition, increased interleukin 6, neutrophil infiltration, desmosome shortening, and impaired epithelial barrier function. Conclusions CD36 loss results in chronic neutrophil infiltration of the gut, impairs barrier integrity, and systemically causes subclinical inflammation. Endothelial cell CD36 deletion reproduces the major intestinal phenotypes. The findings suggest an important role of the endothelium in etiology of gut inflammation and loss of epithelial barrier integrity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-98
Number of pages17
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Collagen
  • Endothelium
  • Fibronectin
  • Neutrophils


Dive into the research topics of 'CD36 Deficiency Impairs the Small Intestinal Barrier and Induces Subclinical Inflammation in Mice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this