Viruses that live around us and within us are capable of many things. They cause not only colds and flu. They also lead to encephalitis, hepatitis, AIDS, and many more diseases. Each year, virologists replenish the information on viruses. Atherosclerosis and cancer are considered to have viral background. During the last 20 years, scientists have been actively discussing the hypothesis about the viral nature of obesity. Some strains of human and avian adenoviruses that cause a variety of diseases are under suspicion.
The viral nature of obesity has been first discussed by Indian doctor Nikhil Dhurandhar.
He noticed that the chickens that had died from a severe adenoviral disease had paradoxically put on weight. Dhurandhar tested the virus on healthy chickens, and after six weeks they became half as fat as the uninfected ones. Similar results were obtained by physiologist Leah Whigham of the University of Wisconsin in the United States. She instilled the chickens with three different strains of adenovirus.
Infected and uninfected chickens lived in the same conditions and were fed in the same way. They gained weight in different ways. The chickens infected with one of the strains accumulated three times more visceral fat and twice more total fat. The other two strains almost had no effect on the weight of the chickens.
Dhurandhar took a blood sample from fifty of his obese patients and checked the presence of antibodies to the suspicious virus. Antibodies were found in the blood of ten most obese patients. The scientist continued the research with the cultures of human cells and found that these viruses made the cells store fat. But what is the relationship between adenovirus and fat?
The answer to this question has been recently found by Dr. Magdalena Pasarica from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in the United States. She found that everything depended on the relation between adenovirus and stem cells. These cells are abundant in the adipose tissue.
It is even considered as a potential source of stem cells for therapy. The experiments revealed that the virus caused the stem cells to turn into fat cells, which began to grow rapidly and increased body fat.
Scientists do not claim that any overweight is caused by a virus. Obesity has many causes, and viruses are just one of them. But if this cause is identified, it is necessary to look for the ways to fight and protect people. This is what the researchers are now doing.