Infectobesity – A Viral Fat?
Could a virus you contracted in childhood turn you into a fat adult? That’s what research says. A common human virus called “adenovirus-36”, or Ad-36 – is now said to be a contributor to human obesity. According to a report on Web MD, “One specific Ad-36 gene, called E4Orfl, is responsible for the virus’s obesity-related effects.”
“Infectobesity” is the term coined by Louisiana State University researcher Nikhil Dhurandhar, PhD. There’s one caveat; tests were performed on mice and chickens, not humans.
Recently, viral infections have been recognized as possible cause of obesity. So the term infectobesity can be used to describe the growing nature of it. To date, in animals six viruses and a scrapie agent have been shown to be associated with obesity.
Understanding contribution of various etiologic factors of obesity may lead to treatments directed specifically toward the cause, and consequently, its successful management.
Ad – 36 was first isolated in 1978 in a diabetic child in Germany. The name is derived from the adenoids, or pharyngeal tonsils, where the first adenovirus was discovered.
After a lot of medical speak, the conclusion was that more studies were needed.
Though obesity has multiple causes, an overlooked possibility is that in some instances it could be due to an infection. It is possible that viral infections exacerbate and facilitate the development of obesity, or its complications, by working in conjunction with other adipogenic factors.
Due to ethical considerations, human beings cannot be experimentally infected with these pathogens. In order to determine the role of viral pathogens in human obesity, that is does the Ad 36 virus cause obesity or there are increased titers of virus due to obesity, further research with larger sample size is required.
Source: Infectobesity? Role of Ad – 36 virus (PDF)