CD36, a membrane protein that facilitates fatty acid uptake, is highly expressed in the intestine on the luminal surface of enterocytes. Cd36 null (Cd36-/-) mice exhibit impaired chylomicron secretion but no overall lipid absorption defect. Because chylomicron production is most efficient proximally we examined whether CD36 function is important for proximal lipid absorption. CD36 levels followed a steep decreasing gradient along three equal-length, proximal to distal intestinal segments (S1-S3). Enterocytes isolated from the small intestines of Cd36-/- mice, when compared with wild type counterparts, exhibited reduced uptake of fatty acid (50%) and cholesterol (60%) in S1. The high affinity fatty acid uptake component was missing in Cd36-/- cells. Fatty acid incorporation into triglyceride and triglyceride secretion were also reduced in Cd36-/- S1 enterocytes. In vivo, proximal absorption was monitored using mass spectrometry from oleic acid enrichment of S1 lipids, 90 min (active absorption) and 5 h (steady state) after intragastric olive oil (70% triolein). Oleate enrichment was 50% reduced at 90 min in Cd36-/- tissue consistent with defective uptake whereas no differences were measured at 5 h. In Cd36-/- S1, mRNA for L-fabp, Dgat1, and apoA-IV was reduced. Protein levels for FATP4, SR-BI, and NPC1L1 were similar, whereas those for apoB48 and apoA-IV were significantly lower. A large increase in NPC1L1 was observed in Cd36 -/- S2 and S3. The findings support the role of CD36 in proximal absorption of dietary fatty acid and cholesterol for optimal chylomicron formation, whereas CD36-independent mechanisms predominate in distal segments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19493-19501
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number27
StatePublished - Jul 6 2007


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