Insulin resistance is mainly characteristic for type 2 diabetes, a common disorder that is also a potent risk factor for coronary heart disease. Genetic associations with type 2 diabetes have recently been drawn, and genes underlying rare monogenic causes of insulin resistance have been identified. But the molecular basis of the common insulin resistance remains unknown.
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CD36 is a multifunctional receptor, which plays a part in mediating intracellular signalling as well as in taking up long-chain fatty acids. This may explain CD36 involvement in the insulin resistance mechanism.
Genetic CD36 deficiency is common in Asian and African populations and could be responsible for the high prevalence of insulin resistance in these populations.