AIMSThe CD36 receptor plays an important role in facilitating fatty acid transport to the heart. The present study aimed to assess whether EP 80317, a selective synthetic peptide ligand of CD36, is cardioprotective in a murine model of myocardial ischaemia and reperfusion (MI/R) injury.METHODS AND RESULTSMice were pretreated with daily subcutaneous injections of EP 80317 for 14 days before being subjected to a 30 min ligation of the left anterior descending coronary artery. The treatment reduced the infarct area and improved myocardial haemodynamics and function, as shown by an increase in cardiac output, ejection fraction and stroke work, and a reduced total peripheral resistance. In contrast, administration of EP 51389, a tripeptide analogue devoid of binding affinity to CD36, did not protect against myocardial injury. Six hours after myocardial reperfusion, EP 80317-treated mice showed reduced myocardial fatty acid uptake, as assessed by micro-positron emission tomography, in agreement with reduced levels of circulating non-esterified fatty acids. Studies using [(14)C]-palmitate infusion revealed reduced lipolysis, although no significant change in insulin or catecholamine plasma levels were observed. Increased expression levels of adipogenic and anti-lipolytic genes further supported an effect of EP 80317 in preventing fatty acid mobilization from adipose tissue. No effect of the treatment was observed in CD36(-/-) mice.CONCLUSIONOur results show that pretreatment with EP 80317 protected the heart against damage and dysfunction elicited by MI/R, along with a transient reduction in peripheral lipolysis. Our findings support CD36 as a novel target for the treatment of ischaemic cardiopathy.