Science and Technology

Fat cells are reservoirs of the covid-19 virus, study claims – 24.11.2022

A Brazilian study involving researchers from Unicamp (Campinas State University) discovered that covid-19 can infect adipose tissue fashioned by fats cells, doubtlessly contributing to larger illness burden in overweight sufferers.

The analysis, carried out in the context of the Unicamp working group towards Covid-19, additionally discovered that visceral fats cells, which are near the inner organs of the physique, are extra prone to the replication of the coronavirus than these situated underneath the pores and skin (subcutaneous). ), though the virus can infect and residential in each sorts of tissue.

The result’s one other step in the direction of understanding how covid-19 works in the human physique and helps clarify why the male inhabitants is extra affected by the extreme kind of the illness.

This is as a result of though girls are on common extra overweight than males, the distribution of these cells in the physique differs by gender, with girls tending to have a larger quantity of subcutaneous fats whereas males have extra visceral mass . .

How the survey was finished

One of the members of the analysis group, professor at Unicamp’s Institute of Biology (IB) Marcelo Mori explains that since the starting of the pandemic it has already been identified that the virus has an impact past the lungs and that fats accumulation is related to worsening of the illness.

This raises the speculation that adipose tissue, particularly visceral, is usually a reservoir for the virus. “Because even then we knew that the predominant danger components had been ageing, weight problems and uncontrolled diabetes, circumstances that are often characterised by altered fats accumulation,” Morey explains.

To check this assumption, the group performed checks with human adipose tissue. They initially obtained 47 fats samples from the chest space of ​​sufferers who died of covid-19 at the Hospital das Clínicas da USP in Ribeirão Preto, discovering the presence of viral RNA in 23 samples, or 49% of the whole.

After confirming the presence of the virus in the cells, the subsequent step was to investigate whether or not the an infection occurred equally in several sorts of adipose tissue or diversified relying on its origin.

At this stage, the scientists performed experiments with fats cells obtained from three donors who had undergone stomach surgical procedure at Unicamp’s Hospital de Clínicas earlier than the pandemic.

“In a managed context, IVFwe uncovered these cells to the virus,” explains Mori. “We decreased the quantity of variables as a lot as attainable to evaluate whether or not mast cells from two totally different anatomical areas had totally different responses to the virus and confirmed that visceral had a larger intrinsic susceptibility to an infection “, he provides.


The study was capable of detect 240 occasions extra RNA of the virus that causes covid-19, Sars-CoV-2, and 770 occasions extra infectious virus particles in visceral cells in comparison with subcutaneous cells.

This implies that the former tissue is extra prone than the latter to viral replication and has a larger potential to contaminate different cells. This larger quantity of contaminated cells is related to larger manufacturing of cytokines, which are inflammatory mediators chargeable for containing an infection, however which at excessive ranges may cause tissue injury.

According to Marcelo Mori, the so-known as cytokine storm (when there may be an extreme inflammatory response in the physique) is a crucial set off for the development of the extreme situation of covid-19, because it results in native and systemic irritation that causes tissue loss of life and cardiovascular and metabolic violations.

“Visceral fats is a crucial supply of cytokine manufacturing, however when a virus infects this tissue, there may be much more manufacturing, which may generate much more irritation,” he explains.

In the case of subcutaneous fats, the study confirmed that covid-19 an infection triggers a mobile response to inhibit lipolysis, which is the course of of breaking down fats (triglycerides) to launch fatty acids and glycerol, which in flip are concerned in metabolic pathways and nourishes different cells in the physique.

Although it additionally has an impact on metabolism, this course of inhibits a pathway that interferes with the virus’s potential to duplicate. Therefore, scientists imagine that this can be a kind of antiviral response of subcutaneous fats cells to the coronavirus.

Mori explains that the Brazilian study is necessary as a result of it provides a brand new layer of data to earlier analysis on the impact of the virus on fats cells.

“We are assured that our numbers exhibiting the comparatively excessive incidence of adipose tissue an infection in covid-19 sufferers are near the actual factor as a result of different research have finished the identical sort of evaluation and located roughly the identical. This means that adipose tissue tissue is a crucial website for extrapulmonary an infection,” he assesses.

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