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A New Study Says a Virus Can Cause Obesity – Adenovirus Ad-37 May Make People Fat

January 30th 2006

A New Study Says a Virus Can Cause Obesity – Adenovirus Ad-37 May Make People Fat


A Virus may be responsible for obesity in some people.  Researchers have found that adenovirus AD-37 causes obesity in chickens.  This finding builds on studies that two related viruses,Ad-36 and Ad-5, cause obesity in animals.  Lead researcher Leah D. Whigham said "Adipogenic potential of multiple human adenoviruses in vivo and in vitro in animals," in the January issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology published by the American Physiological Society.

There seems to be an “accumulating evidence” that viruses may cause obesity, in effect making obesity contagious, according Leah.  The researchers now say “Eat right, exercise, and wash your hands”. 

These three viruses, Ad-37, Ad-36 and Ad-5 are part of a family of approximately 50 viruses know as human adenoviruses.  Adenoviruses were first discovered in 1953 by investigators trying to establish cell-lines from adenoidal tissue of children removed during tonsillectomy. 


According to the Tulane University website, adenoviruses are a “frequent cause of acute upper respiratory tract (URT) infections.”  In 1962, some adenoviruses were shown to cause tumors in rodents.  The viruses are widespread and are able to infect birds, many mammals and man.  There are two genera, Aviadenovirus (avian) and Mastadenovirus (mammalian).

The next step is for researchers to identify the viruses that cause human obesity, devise a screening test to identify people who are infected, and finally develop a vaccine.  Frank Greenway, professor in the Department of Clinical Trials, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge said "If Ad-36 is responsible for a significant portion of human obesity, the logical therapeutic intervention would be to develop a vaccine to prevent future infections.  If a vaccine were to be developed, one would want to ensure that all the serotypes of human adenoviruses responsible for human obesity were covered in the vaccine."


Researchers are trying to speed the process up by a qualitative / quantitative analysis of the adenoviruses into their components.  Greenway wrote "If one could predict the potential of an adenovirus to cause human obesity by using an in vitro assay or even by animal testing, screening of the approximately 50 human adenoviruses might be accelerated, shortening the time required for vaccine formulation."  Researchers would like o screen both lean and obese people to determine the potential for all of the 50 or so adenoviruses to cause obesity. 

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By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:49 PM