SARS-CoV-2 infects adipose tissue and may explain risk factors for obesity

September 29, 2022

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Stanford does not report related financial disclosures. Blish reports serving on the scientific advisory boards of Catamaran Bio and DeepCell. For financial disclosures relating to all other authors, see Research.

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SARS-CoV-2 infects adipose tissue where it may serve as an ongoing source of viral replication and inflammation, demonstrating that obesity is a significant risk factor for severe COVID-19 According to research that may indicate why

Researchers involved in the study said they were unable to determine whether adipose tissue infection contributed to the prolongation of COVID, but the results suggest that adipose tissue acts as a reservoir for SARS-CoV-2, It suggests that it may cause long-term health concerns.


“Here, SARS-CoV-2 infects human adipose tissue, targets both mature adipocytes and a subset of adipose tissue macrophages, and causes immune activation and secretion of severe COVID-19-associated inflammatory factors. report,” the researchers wrote. A study published this month Science Translational Medicine.

Researchers examined adipose tissue and lung, heart and kidney samples from eight COVID-19 autopsy cases and detected SARS-CoV-2 in epicardial, visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue in 7 of 8 cases Did. In one patient whose adipose tissue was not positive for viral RNA, researchers reported that they also did not detect coronavirus in lung, heart, and kidney samples.

The virus was most detectable in lung samples, but levels were similarly high in adipose tissue, heart and kidney samples, researchers said. Investigators who detected SARS-CoV-2 in the adipocyte cytoplasm of epicardial adipose with associated mononuclear inflammatory infiltrates expressed concern over infection of this tissue, particularly in the heart itself.

Researchers infected samples of adipose tissue from 22 participants undergoing bariatric or cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford University with SARS-CoV-2 and found that the virus infects fat cells and causes inflammation. , confirmed that it can elicit an immune system response.

Analysis suggests that adipose tissue may serve as a potential reservoir for SARS-CoV-2, but researchers were unable to prove this based on their data. Catherine A. Blish, MD PhD FIDSA, Associate Program Director of the MD-PhD program at Stanford University.

“The main finding of this study is that adipose tissue can be a source of infection and inflammation. This infection and inflammation can contribute to severe disease and [particularly] However, our findings cannot establish causality.

“This tissue infection could also contribute to the prolongation of COVID, but we have not directly evaluated it and it is an important area for future investigation,” she said.

Blish said he was unaware of any studies addressing the link between COVID reservoirs in the body and long-term COVID. However, the results of the current study add value to the data on her COVID-19 in obese patients.

“There is strong data supporting that obese patients are at increased risk of COVID-19-related illness and death.” Fatima C. Stamford, MarylandMPH, The doctor, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an internist in bariatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital, told Helio in an email.

In the first year of the pandemic, obese people had a 46% increased risk of COVID-19, those diagnosed with the disease had a 113% increased risk of hospitalization, and a 74% increased risk of ICU admission. , increased risk by 66%. Increased risk of intensive mechanical ventilation and a 48% increased risk of death, according to Stanford, who was not involved in the new study.

As Stanford explained at the 2020 Nature Conference, obesity is associated with various immune problems and complications, including chronic inflammation.

A new study finds that when SARS-CoV-2 infects adipose tissue, it initiates a cycle of viral replication that causes immune cells within the tissue to become inflamed, and then turns nearby uninfected cells into an inflamed state. rice field.

The researchers said it was unclear how the virus infects fat cells.Angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (a cell surface molecule commonly used by SARS-CoV-2 to infect cells) ) was virtually undetectable in adipose tissue samples.

Despite research suggesting that adipose tissue infection and inflammation may be associated with more severe COVID, although this is supported by previous research, Blish does not see a direct link. He said it would be difficult to establish.

“To prove that fat infection contributes to severe COVID, we need a model that shows that fat alone blocks infection and the disease is less severe. I don’t know, frankly it’s unlikely to happen any time soon, so the kind of relevance that we and others have observed is probably all we have.


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