Tags: obesity | stem cells | research | Ad-36

Is Obesity Contagious?

Friday, 26 June 2015 04:43 PM Current | Bio | Archive

New research found that when human stem cells — which can turn into any type of cell — were exposed to a common virus, they turned into fat cells. They didn't just change, they also stored fat.

Earlier research had showed another common virus causes cells to store more fat, and people with obesity were three times as likely to have been infected. This doesn't explain America's entire obesity problem, but it adds to other recent evidence that implicates more than just super-sized portions and lack of exercise for expanding waistlines.

Earlier research showed that Adenovirus-36 (Ad-36), a common cause of respiratory and eye infections, caused animals to pack on the pounds in lab experiments.

In addition, a large study of humans found that obese people were three times more likely to be infected with Ad-36 than thin people.

Now researchers have shown that exposure to the virus caused adult human stem cells to turn into fat-storing cells.

Dr. Magdalena Pasarica, who led the latest study, obtained adult stem cells from fat tissue of people who had undergone liposuction. Half of the stem cells were exposed to the virus Ad-36. After a week, most of the infected stem cells developed into fat cells, while the uninfected cells remained unchanged.

The researchers note that Ad-36 is just one of 10 pathogens linked to obesity, and that more may be out there.

They note that some people might find it hard to believe that a virus could be responsible for obesity.

"Certainly overeating has something to do with gaining weight. No doubt about that. But that is not the whole truth. There are multiple causes of obesity. They range from simple overeating to genes to metabolism and perhaps viruses and infections," the researchers note.

In the long term, they hope to develop a vaccine and perhaps treatments for the virus. But first, they need to better understand the role of Ad-36 in human obesity.

The bottom line? Obesity is not necessarily the "psychological defect" that some people make it out to be.

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New research found that when human stem cells — which can turn into any type of cell — were exposed to a common virus, they turned into fat cells.
obesity, stem cells, research, Ad-36
Friday, 26 June 2015 04:43 PM
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