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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Explained: How obesity impairs body’s ability to fight Covid-19 infection

Obesity is known to lead to problems like heart disease and diabetes, and also to influence the immune system in many ways.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: September 5, 2020 7:53:50 am
Obesity can make it more difficult to fight a Covid-19 infection, according to a manuscript published in Endocrinology, the journal of the international medical organisation Endocrine Society. (Photo: Reuters)

Obesity can make it more difficult to fight a Covid-19 infection, according to a manuscript published in Endocrinology, the journal of the international medical organisation Endocrine Society. It says obesity can cause a hyperactive immune system response to Covid-19 infection, which makes it difficult to fight off the virus.

Obesity is known to lead to problems like heart disease and diabetes, and also to influence the immune system in many ways. For example, obesity causes a chronic activation of some parts of the immune system. When someone with this pre-existing condition is faced with an infection, this could lead to the immune system becoming hyperactive — in a detrimental way that does not fight infection.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has made us aware of the complex interactions of obesity with infectious diseases, and the gaps in our understanding of how chronic health conditions affect our immune responses to acute infection,” the study’s corresponding author, Durga Singer of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said in a statement.

“Recent evidence has highlighted how one part of the immune system, the macrophage, may be a culprit in driving severe Covid-19 disease. Our manuscript focuses on what is already known about the interaction of obesity, macrophages and other infections like influenza. These findings highlight the importance of understanding how obesity might interact with new drugs or vaccines that are developed for Covid-19,” Singer said.

The paper describes immune responses caused by obesity that drive organ injury in severe Covid-19 infection, and impair ability to fight the virus.

Source: Endocrine Society

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