Obesity may change immune response to COVID-19, making it more deadly

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In a new study, researchers found obesity may cause a hyperactive immune system response to COVID-19 infection that makes it difficult to fight off the virus.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Michigan.

Obesity not only leads to problems like heart disease and diabetes but also influences the immune system in many ways.

Obesity causes chronic, low-grade activation of some parts of the immune system.

When someone with this preexisting condition is faced with an infection, this could lead to hyper-activation of the immune system, but in a detrimental way that does not fight infection.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made researchers aware of the complex interactions of obesity with infectious diseases, and the gaps in the understanding of how chronic health conditions affect our immune responses to acute infection.

Recent evidence has highlighted how one part of the immune system, the macrophage, may be a culprit in driving severe COVID-19 disease.

The study focused on what is already known about the interaction of obesity, macrophages, and other infections like influenza.

In this review, the scientists describe the impact of obesity on the immune system.

They discuss the irregular immune responses caused by obesity that drive organ injury in severe COVID-19 infection and impair a person’s ability to fight the virus.

These findings highlight the importance of understanding how obesity might interact with new drugs or vaccines that are developed for COVID-19.
The other authors of the study are Gabrielle P. Huizinga and Benjamin H. Singer of the University of Michigan.

One author of the study is Durga Singer, M.D.

The study is published in Endocrinology.

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