An adenovirus is a medium sized virus that has been shown to cause a various number of infections in humans, from respiratory problems to eye infections. 57 types of adenoviruses have been shown to attack humans, with adenoviridae actually responsible for up to 10 percent of respiratory infections in children.
Adenoviruses are able to very efficiently replicate in the nucleus of host cells.
Research on the adenovirus has been slow but steady in recent years. In 2010, scientists had a breakthrough when they announced that they had solved the atomic structure of the adenovirus. There was a vaccine for the virus produced specifically for members of the armed forces, but it is no longer being made, and there is currently no vaccine in production for adenovirus infections. Common sense ways to keep from being infected include good hygiene, especially the washing of hands.
Of the 57 types of adenovirus known to infect humans, Ad-36, or adenovirus 36, has been shown to cause obesity in humans. The adenovirus was known for many decades to cause weight gains in chickens, but only recently have these results been extrapolated to known instances of the human genome. The amount of AD-36 in the blood is measured by the amount of Ad-36 antibodies in the blood. Ad-36 is the only adenovirus that has been linked to human obesity, and AD-36 antibodies are present in upwards of 30 percent of obese people. They are also present in around 10 percent of non obese people.
Some laboratory tests have shown that adult stem cells harvested from fatty tissues will turn into fat cells when exposed to Ad-36. The stem cells in the experiments were obtained from a wide cross-section of patients. For the tests, half of the stem cells were exposed to the Ad-36 virus while the other half of the stem cells were not exposed to the virus at all. The result? After about a week in the culture, the majority of the adenovirus AD-36 infected stem cells had developed into fat cells, while the other half, which were not exposed to the virus did not develop into fat cells.
There is a specific gene which was also found during these same laboratory tests where the stem cell to fat cell conversions were observed. E4Orfl is associated with the Ad-36 virus and many researchers believe that it is this gene, E4Orfl, which is responsible for the fat accumulation of Ad-36 infected cells.
Dr. Richard Atkinson of the University of Wisconsin conducted research in Australia, subsequently posting the results of his research on adenoviruses on the
internet in 2006. The findings found that over 20 percent of the 2000 study participants that had contracted the adenovirus 36 as a viral infection were considered obese by governmental standards. Professor Nikhil Dhurandhar of the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in Louisiana also found that the Ad-36 adenovirus is most likely a cause of the high rate of obesity in Great Britian. Similar studies have been done on children in the United States, with a definite correlation between Ad-36 and the rate of obesity. The study tested many different ethnicities to negate as many possibilities of different genetic material causing a more natural predisposition to obesity and weight gain in the children. The doctors from that study expressed the hope that a vaccine may be able to be developed that would greatly curb the rate of overweight children as a whole.
In September of 2010 a study was published in the online edition of the medical journal Pediatrics, where researchers from the University of California arrived at an interesting conclusion. 124 children were involved in a study to test for the presence of the adenovirus-36 virus. The children in the study who were found to be carrying the Ad-36 virus weighed almost 50 pounds more than their non-infected counterparts, classifying the children as obese. So, as you can see, there may be a real distinct correlation between Ad-36 and obesity. Specifically, immature fat cells found in children may be more prone to develop into fully-fledged fat cells when the child has the Ad-36 virus in their body.
Now that researchers have found a possible link between Ad-36 and obesity, the focus is on trying to develop a cure, or early diagnosis of the virus so that some children can hopefully avoid gaining unnecessary weight. It is still crucial to remember that a healthy diet and exercise are also important in attaining and maintaining a proper body weight.