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Neurobiol Aging. 2007 Apr;28(4):515-8. Epub 2006 Mar 23.

The leukocyte expression of CD36 is low in patients with Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment.

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  • 1Center of Excellence on Neurodegenerative Diseases, Department of Medical Pharmacology, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.


CD36, a scavenger receptor of class B (SR-B), helps mediate microglial and macrophage response to beta-amyloid fibrils (betaA), and seems to play a key role in the proinflammatory events associated with Alzheimer disease (AD) in many tissues. Peripheral leukocytes express many molecules and multiple receptors which undergo the same regulatory mechanisms as those operative in the brain. Thus, these cells, easily obtainable through peripheral blood sampling, may be used as a tool to investigate changes occurring in inaccessible brain areas. Based on these premises, we investigated the leukocyte expression of CD36 in 70 AD patients and in 30 subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Results were compared to those of 20 young and 40 age-matched control subjects. Leukocyte expression of CD36 was significantly reduced versus controls in both AD and MCI patients, while in young and old controls there were no age-related changes. Although preliminary, these data indicate that the reduction of CD36 expression in leukocytes is a disease-related phenomenon, occurring since the early stages of AD (MCI). Irrespective of the mechanism(s) underlying such changes, assessment of leukocyte CD36 expression might represent an useful tool to support the diagnosis of AD and to screen MCI patients candidates to develop the disease.

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