A high-fat diet and endurance exercise increase the content of fatty acid translocase/cluster of differentiation 36 (FAT/CD36) at both the mRNA and protein level, concluded a study that systematically reviewed primary studies. The translocation of FAT/CD36 to the cell membrane and mitochondria increases lipid metabolism, the review also said.

However, the results are not conclusive “due to the small amount of work, subjects studied, and different methodologies used,” the authors noted.

The review is published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

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“Moreover, weight loss treatments should be individualized and consider genetic factors, sex, age, nutritional status, and physical fitness, thus favoring a healthy oxidative metabolism and nutritional status,” they added.

The main role of FAT/CD36 is to facilitate the transport of long-chain fatty acids through the cell membranes of muscle cells, fat cells, heart cells, and liver cells. This constitutes the first step in long-chain fatty acid oxidation, the impairment of which leads to long-chain fatty acid oxidation disorders (LCFAOD).

The review reported that the amount of FAT/CD36 in skeletal muscles is associated with the synthesis and activation of proteins associated with fatty acid transport oxidation, and hydrolysis.

It also reported that although obese people have a lower oxidative capacity, fatty acid oxidation, and FAT/CD36 content are not affected by obesity, according to some studies. However, studies to confirm this are lacking, the authors of the review said.

Similarly, some studies reported that women have higher fatty acid oxidation and FAT/CD36 protein content compared to men, but again studies to confirm this were lacking.

“Due to the type of analysis in most of the works (cell biology), the sample size is still small, for which a subsequent meta-analysis is necessary to improve the strength of the results,” the authors concluded.


Ramos-Jiménez A, Zavala-Lira RA, Moreno-Brito V, González-Rodríguez E. FAT/CD36 participation in human skeletal muscle lipid metabolism: a systematic review. J Clin Med. Published online January 12, 2023. doi:10.3390/jcm12010318