We are exposed to more viruses as we age. In other words, A VIRUS IS MAKIN MAH BABBY FAT!

Revenge of teh Chubby Virus!

I know you all have seen the headlines. Again.

More evidence links a virus to obesity, this time in childrenâ
Study: Children Exposed to Adenovirus-36 Likely to Get Obeseâ
Virus Is Linked To Obesity
Can a Cold Lead to Childhood Obesity?

Adenovirus 36 and Obesity in Children and Adolescents

Adenoviruses are ubiquitous. Weve all been infected with lots of them (gets to be a problem when making gene therapy vectors). The older you are, the more likely you have been exposed to the different kinds of adenovirus, to the point where if you are an adult reading this, you probably have antibodies to serotypes 1, 2, 5, and/or 6 (depending on where you live).

Thus older children are more likely to have been exposed to any adenovirus, including Ad-36. If your 'obese' group of children is 63% kids aged 15-18, and your 'healthy weight' group is only 17% 15-18, I am not shocked at all that antibodies to Ad-36 is correlated with obesity. I bet you could have picked any other adenovirus serotype and found the same correlation. But they didnt look.

William M. Briggs gets it. I dunno the dude. Statistician. But he gets it. *thumbs-up*

From a virologists perspective, there are putative, plausible mechanisms for how Ad-36 could actually play a role in obesity. Those reasonings require ongoing replication. If you have an actively replicating virus, you should have higher titer antibodies. This study did not simply ask 'Are there Ad-36 antibodies? YES/NO' They used a protocol that could tell you the titer (concentration) of antibodies in samples. Yet no titer was reported, or distribution of titer. Were they all positive in only the second dilution, implying that the children had been exposed, at some point, but the virus was loooooong gone (thus cutting any current hypotheses for how Ad-36 could cause obesity off at the knees)? Or were they all positive out to the last dilution, implying current, ongoing infection? Or was there a mix? I dunno. Not reported... even though the measurements were made.


Or maybe the people with persistent Ad-36 infections make Ad-36 antibodies, but they are ineffective and non-neutralizing. Or maybe people with persistent Ad-36 infections dont make Ad-36 antibodies at all (some bias form an earlier infection preventing the generation of true Ad-36 antibodies, like antigenic sin). They would not 'see' these antibodies in the assay used. Maybe the opposite conclusion is true-- people persistent Ad-36 infections due to non-neutralizing antibodies are 'protected' from obesity. O.o They dunno. Didnt look.

If you really want to connect Ad-36 to obesity, you have to look for the virus. Not antibodies to the virus. Took me about 0.5 seconds of searching PubMed to find numerous protocols for detecting adenovirus genome.


More like this

This is the fifth of 6 guest posts on infection and chronic disease. By Whitney Baker My previous blog post examined the idea of an infectious etiology for obesity by a group of possible infectious agents. While these pathogens have been associated with obesity in humans or animals, their…
You all might remember this story from a few years ago: Contagious Obesity? Identifying The Human Adenoviruses That May Make Us Fat This is one of the papers that article was based on: Human adenovirus-36 is associated with increased body weight and paradoxical reduction of serum lipids Long story…
When HIV-1 was first discovered, scientists were optimistic about a vaccine. Small pox, polio, measles, meh-- HIV-1 is a virus. We can handle viruses. Give us 6 months. No prob. Well, >25 years later and we still dont have a damn vaccine. Strategies that worked against other viruses? HIV-1…
This is the third of 6 guest posts on infectious causes of chronic disease. By Whitney Baker While working out at the gym last night, I was perusing the latest SHAPE magazine to help pass the time. In it, I read a small article about researchers finding an association between Adenovirus-36 and…

From the WPI/Mikovits school of virology, then.

And the Ruscetti, Silverman, Klein school.

If your 'obese' group of children is 63% kids aged 15-18, and your 'healthy weight' group is only 17% 15-18, I am not shocked at all that antibodies to Ad-36 is correlated with obesity.

Actually, ERV, the percentages you've referred to are the age distributions for the Ad-32 negative vs positive groups, NOT obese vs healthy.

They haven't given any numbers for the age distributions of the "obese" and "healthy" groups - which is insane. What a strange little paper.

Of course, if the virus did cause weight gain the weight wouldn't suddenly dissappear the day the infection cleared up, so I'm not sure how you need a correlation between current weight and current infection.

I'm not sure how you need a correlation between current weight and current infection.

As I understand it, for a virus to cause significant weight gain in the long term, it would have to be a persistent infection. No one gets obese over the course of a 2 week cold.

By theshortearedowl (not verified) on 23 Sep 2010 #permalink

From the article, I don't see any causal relationship between Adv-36 and obesity. I think the conclussion "virus making us fat" is too early to say.

By Anonymous (not verified) on 24 Sep 2010 #permalink

Is there any need to pick a handle?