Now researchers have found that the coronavirus infects both fat cells and certain immune cells within body fat, prompting a damaging defensive response in the body.
“The bottom line is, ‘Oh my god, indeed, the virus can infect fat cells directly,’” said Dr. Philipp Scherer, a scientist who studies fat cells at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, who was not involved in the research.
“Whatever happens in fat doesn’t stay in fat,” he added. “It affects the neighboring tissues as well.”
The research has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal, but it was posted online in October. If the findings hold up, they may shed light not just on why patients with excess pounds are vulnerable to the virus, but also on why certain younger adults with no other risks become so ill.