Scope: Carotenoids are mainly stored in adipose tissue. However, nothing is known regarding the uptake of carotenoids by adipocytes. Thus, our study explored the mechanism by which lycopene and lutein, two major human plasma carotenoids, are transported.
Methods and results: CD36 was a putative candidate for this uptake, 3T3-L1 cells were treated with sulfosuccinimidyl oleate, a CD36-specific inhibitor. sulfosuccinimidyl oleate-treated cells showed a significant decrease in both lycopene and lutein uptake as compared to control cells. Their uptake was also decreased by partial inhibition of CD36 expression using siRNA, whereas the overexpression of CD36 in Cos-1 cells increased their uptake. Finally, the effect of CD36 on carotenoid uptake was confirmed ex vivo in cultures of adipose tissue explants from CD36−/− mice, which exhibited reduced carotenoid uptake as compared to wild-type mice explants.
Conclusion: For the first time, we report the involvement of a transporter, CD36, in carotenoid uptake by adipocytes and adipose tissue.