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SARS-CoV-2 infects fat tissue, creates inflammatory storm cloud, study finds

SARS-CoV-2 infects fat tissue, creates inflammatory storm cloud, study finds

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, infects and replicates in fat tissue, creating an inflammatory storm cloud that can cause serious injury to other organs, a new study has found.

The study, conducted in mice, found that the virus replicated in fat tissue and released harmful inflammatory chemicals that damaged the lungs, heart and kidneys.

“This study provides the first direct evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can infect and replicate in fat tissue,” said senior author Gyongyi Szabo, M.D., Ph.D., the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Director of the Center for Liver Disease and Hepatitis C at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).

“What’s more, we found that infection of fat tissue by SARS-CoV-2 leads to a systemic inflammatory response that can cause organ injury.”

People with obesity are at increased risk for severe COVID-19, and the new study provides insights into why this may be.

“Infection of fat tissue with SARS-CoV-2 may be a key factor in the increased severity of COVID-19 in obese individuals,” said Szabo.

The study was conducted in two groups of mice – one group was obese and one was lean. The obese mice had significantly more fat tissue and were more likely to develop severe pulmonary injury when infected with SARS-CoV-2, compared to the lean mice.

“What was really striking was the difference in the severity of lung injury between the obese and lean mice,” said first author Tianyi Wang, M.D., Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Szabo lab.

“The obese mice had much more extensive and severe lung damage, and they also had higher levels of inflammatory chemicals in their blood.”

The study found that the virus replicated in fat tissue and released inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. These cytokines damaged the lungs, heart and kidneys, and led to a significant increase in mortality in the obese mice.

“This is the first study to show that SARS-CoV-2 can infect and replicate in fat tissue, and that this infection can lead to a severe, systemic inflammatory response,” said Szabo.

“Our study highlights the importance of obesity in the severity of COVID-19, and provides new insights into the mechanisms by which the virus causes organ injury.”

The findings were published in the journal Nature Medicine.

The new coronavirus that emerged in China in 2019 attacks and damaged fat tissue, and also generated an “inflammatory storm” of chemicals in the body, a new study found.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, provides the clearest picture yet of how the virus, SARS-CoV-2, causes disease. It also challenges the long-held belief that viruses primarily infect the lungs.

Researchers performed biopsies on patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and found that the virus had attacked multiple types of cells and created an “inflammatory storm” in the body.

“This is the first report that really shows all of the different cell types that are infected in patients with Covid-19,” said Dr. Brigham H. Young, an immunologist at the University of Utah and one of the authors of the study.

The study found that the virus infects not just the cells lining the airways, but also the cells in fat tissue. The virus replicates in these cells and sets off a cascade of inflammation.

“The virus is driving an inflammatory storm in the body, and that’s likely one of the things that’s causing the severe disease that we see in some patients,” said Dr. Ralph Scott, an immunologist at the University of Washington and another author of the study.

In addition to the damage caused by the virus, the study found that the body’s response to the infection may also be contributing to the severity of the disease.

“The body’s response to the virus is actually making the disease worse,” said Dr. Scott.

The study provides new insights into the disease and how it progresses. It also highlights the importance of developing treatments that target the body’s response to the virus, in addition to the virus itself.

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