Best Friends

AD-36: Parent or Friend of Obesity?

AD-36 — an adenovirus sometimes called the obesity virus  — is a potential obesity trigger for which evidence just keeps accumulating. Two recent studies are worth noting.

In a robust retrospective cohort study, Jameson Voss and colleagues studied male U.S. Air Force personnel over a period of up to 17 years. They found that individuals who had been exposed to AD-36 at baseline were more likely to develop overweight or obesity than those who were not. The effect was particularly strong for those who were lean, but infected. They were almost four times more likely to develop overweight or obesity.

In the International Journal of Obesity, H-N Na and J-H Nam published a study of an AD-36 vaccine to demonstrate that it could prevent obesity caused by this virus. The study was placebo-controlled and conducted in mice. Both the vaccinated mice and the control group were exposed to live AD-36. Fourteen weeks after their exposure, the control mice had gained more weight, more adipose tissue, and had more objective signs of inflammation.

Does AD-36 spawn obesity, or just hang out with it?

By now, it’s clear that AD-36 can trigger obesity in animals. Definitive proof in humans is harder to come by, but the evidence keeps coming. Pursuing this evidence is like swimming against the tide. The worn-out notion that obesity is only a function of calories in and calories out dominates popular thinking about obesity.

Scientists who doggedly pursue this and other innovative concepts deserve our respect.

Click here for the study by Voss et al and here for the study by Na and Nam.

Best Friends, photograph © mehaara / flickr

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