Finishing touch
COVID attacks fat cells

Researchers from Stanford University set out to explain why people with obesity are at higher risk when contracting COVID-19, as Tom Walker reports


New research suggests that COVID-19 infects fat cells, explaining why overweight and obese are at a higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.

The study lends added credibility to the work being done by spa and wellness businesses in supporting people to control their levels of body fat.

The study, led by Stanford University School of Medicine, examined whether fat tissue obtained from bariatric surgery patients could become infected with the SARS-CoV-2, and tracked how various types of cells responded to the virus.

It found that fat cells and also immune cells (macrophages) can be infected, leading to a ‘robust inflammatory response’.

The findings show the virus is able to evade the immune defences within the body’s fat cells, before causing inflammation elsewhere in the body.

In addition to explaining why patients with excess body weight are particularly vulnerable, it may also explain why some younger adults with no underlying health issues become so ill.

‘Permissive’ fat tissue
In reporting the details of the findings, the researchers said: “Collectively, our findings indicate that adipose (fat) tissue supports SARS-CoV-2 infection and pathogenic inflammation and may explain the link between obesity and severe COVID-19.“Obesity is associated with adverse COVID-19 outcomes, but the underlying mechanism was unknown up to this point.

“We demonstrate that human fat tissue is ‘permissive’ to SARS-CoV-2 infection – the virus that causes COVID-19 – and that infection elicits an inflammatory response, including the secretion of known inflammatory mediators of severe COVID-19.

“We identify two cellular targets of SARS-CoV-2 infection in adipose tissue: mature adipocytes and adipose tissue macrophages.

“Adipose tissue macrophage infection is largely restricted to a highly inflammatory subpopulation of macrophages, present at baseline, that is further activated in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

“Preadipocytes, while not infected, adopt a pro-inflammatory phenotype. We further demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 RNA is detectable in adipocytes in COVID-19 autopsy cases and is associated with an inflammatory infiltrate.

The research has not yet been peer-reviewed, but has been published: www.spabusiness.com/fatcells

 


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Spa Business
2021 issue 4

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Leisure Management - COVID attacks fat cells

Finishing touch

COVID attacks fat cells


Researchers from Stanford University set out to explain why people with obesity are at higher risk when contracting COVID-19, as Tom Walker reports

Researchers at Stanford found fat cells can be infected by COVID-19, provoking to a ‘robust inflammatory response’ photo: Shutterstock/UGREEN 3S

New research suggests that COVID-19 infects fat cells, explaining why overweight and obese are at a higher risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.

The study lends added credibility to the work being done by spa and wellness businesses in supporting people to control their levels of body fat.

The study, led by Stanford University School of Medicine, examined whether fat tissue obtained from bariatric surgery patients could become infected with the SARS-CoV-2, and tracked how various types of cells responded to the virus.

It found that fat cells and also immune cells (macrophages) can be infected, leading to a ‘robust inflammatory response’.

The findings show the virus is able to evade the immune defences within the body’s fat cells, before causing inflammation elsewhere in the body.

In addition to explaining why patients with excess body weight are particularly vulnerable, it may also explain why some younger adults with no underlying health issues become so ill.

‘Permissive’ fat tissue
In reporting the details of the findings, the researchers said: “Collectively, our findings indicate that adipose (fat) tissue supports SARS-CoV-2 infection and pathogenic inflammation and may explain the link between obesity and severe COVID-19.“Obesity is associated with adverse COVID-19 outcomes, but the underlying mechanism was unknown up to this point.

“We demonstrate that human fat tissue is ‘permissive’ to SARS-CoV-2 infection – the virus that causes COVID-19 – and that infection elicits an inflammatory response, including the secretion of known inflammatory mediators of severe COVID-19.

“We identify two cellular targets of SARS-CoV-2 infection in adipose tissue: mature adipocytes and adipose tissue macrophages.

“Adipose tissue macrophage infection is largely restricted to a highly inflammatory subpopulation of macrophages, present at baseline, that is further activated in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

“Preadipocytes, while not infected, adopt a pro-inflammatory phenotype. We further demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 RNA is detectable in adipocytes in COVID-19 autopsy cases and is associated with an inflammatory infiltrate.

The research has not yet been peer-reviewed, but has been published: www.spabusiness.com/fatcells


Originally published in Spa Business 2021 issue 4

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