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Mayo Clinic Proceedings article explores possible link between obesity and viral infections
Date:10/23/2007

xposure to the Ad-36 virus in humans. Dr. Atkinsons study screened for antibodies to Ad-36 (a sign of exposure to this virus) in 502 people of varying body weights, both obese and non-obese, from three cities in the United States. Ad-36 antibodies were found in 30 percent of obese individuals and 11 percent of lean individuals. Study results also showed highly significant differences in body mass index (BMI) between antibody-positive and antibody-negative individuals.

Dr. Atkinson also highlighted a study that looked at 89 sets of American adult twins and screened them for Ad-36. Because twins tend to be similar in many characteristics, including body weight, the researchers looked at twin pairs where one twin tested positively for Ad-36 and the other did not.

Antibody-positive twins were slightly, but significantly, heavier and fatter than their antibody negative co-twins, says Dr. Atkinson. The infected twins had a higher BMI and a greater percent of body fat than the uninfected co-twins.

In the mid-1970s, a virus called SMAM-1 was believed responsible for an increased death rate among commercially raised chickens in India. SMAM-1 is associated with decreased immune function and an increased accumulation of body fat in infected chickens. Dr. Atkinson reports that one study tested 52 obese humans for antibodies to SMAM-1. About 20 percent had SMAM-1 antibodies, indicating exposure to this virus. The study participants who had these antibodies were heavier and had a higher body mass index compared with the antibody-negative group.

Dr. Atkinsons article also explores what current research has to say about the possible mechanisms underlying virus-induced obesity. Some research suggests that viral infections have a direct effect on adipocytes, cells that manufacture and store fat, turning on the enzymes of fat accumulation and recruitment of new adipocytes.

Whats the next step for this research? According to Dr. Atkinson,
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Contact: John Murphy
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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