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Catching The Fat Virus 2009-01-28

Posted by clype in Health.

Obesity can be ‘caught’ as easily as a common cold from other people’s coughs, sneezes and dirty hands, scientists said Monday 2009-01-26.

The virus, known as AD-36, infects the lungs then ‘whisks’ around the body, forcing fat cells to replicate — leading to weight gain, and causing sore throats, coughs, diarrhea and conjunctivitis Mr.Nikhil Dhurandhar, an associate professor at ‘The Pennington Biomedical Research Center‘, in Baton Rouge, La. Said.

[Picture of Prof. Nikhil Dhurandhar]
‘People could be fat for reasons other than viral infections, so it’s pointless for fat people to try to avoid infection.’

And humans have a natural body weight and they always suffer hunger pangs said Mr.Dhurandhar.

Does The Ad-36 Virus Cause Obesity?

97 million Americans are overweight or obese.

Obesity is considered an epidemic these days.

Could a virus be behind it?

Scientists have presented a new study showing infection with the adenovirus-36 (Ad-36) virus, long recognized as a cause of respiratory and eye infections in humans, may be a contributing factor.

Their laboratory experiments they showed that infection with Ad-36 transforms adult stem cells obtained from fat tissue into fat cells. Stem cells not exposed to the virus, in contrast, were unchanged.

They obtained adult stem cells from fatty tissue from a broad cross-section of patients who had undergone liposuction. Half of the stem cells were exposed to Ad-36 and the other half were not exposed to the virus. After about a week of growth in tissue culture, most of the virus-infected adult stem cells developed into fat cells, whereas the non-infected stem cells did not, the researchers say.

The research group recently identified a gene in the Ad-36 virus that appears to be involved in causing fat accumulation observed in infected animals. That gene, called E4Orfl, is now emerging as a promising target for future human therapies, such as vaccines and anti-viral medicines, aimed at preventing or inhibiting the obesity virus, she says.

The exact mechanism by which the virus might cause obesity in people is currently unknown, says Ms.Magdalena Pasarica, M.D., Ph.D., of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, a campus of the Louisiana State University system, who does not rule out the possibility that other human viruses may also contribute to obesity.

Researchers also do not know how long the virus remains in the body of obese individuals nor how long its fat-enhancing effect lasts once the virus is gone.

However, Ms.Pasarica notes a recent study demonstrated that animals that developed the virus remained obese up to six months after their infection was gone. More studies are needed, especially in humans, she adds.

[Picture of Magdalena Pasarica]
‘We’re not saying that a virus is the only cause of obesity, but this study provides stronger evidence that some obesity cases may involve viral infections,’ says Ms. Pasarica.

‘Not all infected people will develop obesity,’ she notes.

‘We would ultimately like to identify the underlying factors that predispose some obese people to develop this virus and eventually find a way to treat it.’

Ms.Pasarica was part of the original research group which demonstrated that the Ad-36 virus was capable of causing animals infected with the virus to accumulate fat. Led by Mr. Nikhil Dhurandhar, Ph.D., now an associate professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, the group also conducted a noted epidemiologic study — the first to associate a virus with human obesity — showing 30 percent of obese people were infected with the Ad-36 virus in comparison to 11 percent of lean individuals.

But evidence that the virus could actually cause fat levels to increase in human cells was lacking until now, Ms. Pasarica says.

Ms.Pasarica and her associates are now in the process of trying to identify the factors that predispose some people with the virus to develop obesity while others do not, but results of this investigation are not yet available, they say.

Exposure to Ad-36 virus might cause obesity: study

Exposure to Ad-36 virus might cause obesity: study In yet another indication of a pathogen’s role in the increase of obesity cases worldwide, a study conducted on Australians showed that the virus Ad-36 might have a hand in causing weight gain. Ad-36, which is a human adenovirus, causes eye infections, colds, and diarrhoea.

Under the study, researchers from The University of Wisconsin at Madison, led by Mr. Richard Atkinson, conducted blood tests on around 2 000 Australians.

The results showed that 20 per cent of the study subjects had been exposed to Ad-36. Another study by the same team, conducted on 500 Americans, had shown that around 30 per cent of those who were classified as obese had been infected by the virus, as against 11 per cent of those who had normal body weight.

Laboratory experiments have shown the presence of Ad-36 in the fat cells of animals and humans. In addition, the virus has been found to aid the conversion of pre-fat cells to fat cells.

‘I believe obesity is a complex disease of many causes, one of which is viral infection,’ Mr.Atkinson said.

He added that in the study of Americans, the researchers had also studied cases of 26 pairs of twins, one of whom had been exposed to Ad-36.

‘And just as we predicted, the infected twins were heavier and fatter,’ Mr.Atkinson explained.

Among animals too the instances of obesity rise with exposure to the adenovirus. Experiments with chickens and mice had shown that Ad-36 infection led to weight gain. What’s more, the virus spread from one animal to another easily.

‘The uninfected animals got infected and got fat,’ Mr.Atkinson said.

He added that study explains the rising instances of obesity in Australia and also in other parts of the world. Defined as excessive body weight, obesity is the cause of a number of diseases including cardiac ailments, diabetes, arthritis and even cancer.

Besides overeating, it is caused by factors like sedentary lifestyle, lack of sufficient sleep and physical activity, among others.

The instances of obesity have been growing alarmingly fast throughout the world with many developing countries also reporting high instances of excess body weight among its citizens.



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