Background: CD36 is a widely expressed cell surface receptor that binds lipoproteins, and its function has been implicated in many complications of the metabolic syndrome. A cell-free form of CD36, soluble CD36 (sCD36), has been reported in human plasma, found to be elevated in obesity and diabetes, and claimed as a marker of insulin resistance. Objective: To determine the nature of sCD36; in particular, whether sCD36 is truly soluble or, as hypothesized, is found as a component of circulating microparticles (MPs). Methods: Lipoproteins were fractionated by density gradient centrifugation, and plasma MPs were isolated by ultracentrifugation, size exclusion, and immunoprecipitation with CD36 detected by immunoblotting. MPs from plasma and activated platelets were analyzed by multicolor flow cytometry, with a DyLight-488 anti-CD36 conjugate in combination with antibodies against different cellular markers. Results: Cell-free plasma CD36 was not observed associated with lipoproteins and was not a proteolytic fragment; rather, it was associated with the plasma MP fraction, suggesting that sCD36 in the plasma of normal subjects is a product of circulating MPs. Cytometric and immunoblotting analyses of plasma from normal donors showed that these MPs were derived mainly from platelets. Analysis of in vitro activated platelets also showed that CD36 to be secreted in the form of MPs. Conclusions: sCD36 is not a proteolytic product, but rather is associated with a specific subset of circulating MPs that can readily be analysed. This finding will enable more specific investigations into the cellular source of the increased levels of plasma CD36 found in subjects with diabetes.
Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis Vol. 9, Issue 4, p. 844-851