What is the role of infection and inflammation in the etiology of obesity?

Updated: Jun 09, 2021
  • Author: Osama Hamdy, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Evolving data suggest that a notable inflammatory, and possibly infective, etiology may exist for obesity. Adipose tissue is known to be a repository of various cytokines, especially interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha. One study showed an association between obesity and a high-normal level of plasma procalcitonin, a dependent variable that reflects a state of distress or inflammation. [83]

Data have shown that adenovirus-36 infection is associated with obesity in chickens and mice. In human studies, the prevalence of adenovirus-36 infection is 20-30% in people who are obese, versus 5% in people who are not obese. Despite these provocative findings, the roles of infection and inflammation in the pathogenesis of obesity remain unclear.

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