New human virus tied to obesity

From San Diego, at Nutrition Week

Researchers have identified the second member of a class of human viruses that may increase people’s susceptibility to obesity. Previous studies have shown that people and lab animals infected with a virus known as human adenovirus-36, or Ad-36, are more likely to be obese than are uninfected individuals. A new study finds that a closely related adenovirus from people causes excess fat to accumulate in chickens infected with the virus.

Richard L. Atkinson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his colleagues sprayed human adenoviruses Ad-2, Ad-31, and Ad-37 into the nasal passages of young chicks to test for the effects they had seen with Ad-36.

Four weeks later, chicks infected with Ad-37 had an average of 6 grams of fat stored around internal organs, compared with about 2 g for chicks infected with Ad-2 or Ad-31 or chicks free of adenoviruses. All chicks received similar diets, and overall body weights weren’t significantly different among the groups.

Atkinson says that physiological measurements hint at multiple mechanisms, still unknown, underlying the viruses’ role in fat accumulation.

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