Scientists have found new evidence linking a common kind of viral infection to obesity. The human adenovirus-36 (Ad-36) -- a cause of respiratory infections and pinkeye -- may also be a contributing factor to obesity, as it’s been found to transform adult stem cells into fat cells, capable of storing additional fat.
Their findings were reported at the 234th national meeting and exposition of the American Chemical Society in Boston, Massachusetts, held August 19-23.
In a previous epidemiologic study, the researchers found that about 30 percent of obese people were infected with the Ad-36 virus, compared to 11 percent of lean individuals. Exactly how the virus causes obesity in people is still unknown, but it is believed that a specific gene, called E4Orfl, in the virus may be the culprit that promotes the obesity effect.
The team is now trying to figure out the factors that predispose some people with the virus to develop obesity, whereas others remain unaffected. Researchers hope the findings may lead to a future vaccine or antiviral obesity medication.
Science Blog August 20, 2007
CarbWire August 21, 2007
USA Today August 22, 2007