Obesity Virus: Adenovirus 36

Obesity is associated with unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity. However, a virus known as

adenovirus – 36

or Ad-36, might be a factor behind obesity. Researcher Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar from the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre, Louisiana found that this virus is associated with excess weight in chicken in January 2009.

The fat virus is supposed to increase the fat cell production – thereby, resulting in obesity. However, as the research on this topic is still in the starting stages, further study might be required to confirm its effect on obesity.

How this Virus Causes Obesity ?

Cells are the basic building blocks of life. Human body contains billions of cells. There are several types under which these cells are divided. They perform different kinds of activities based on their category.

But the structure of every cell is the same with a central section called nucleus. It contains substances called the DNA and the RNA with which the genes are made up of. The nucleus primarily is involved in the division of the cells.

On the contrary, fat cells have an unique quality. Generally, they do no divide until there is a serious shortage of them in the body. They grow in size instead by accumulating fat molecules within them. The Ad-36 virus induces obesity with the help of a gene, E4orf1 by infecting the nucleus of the fat cells.

As a result, the body produces more fat by converting large number of stem cells (special kind of cells with the unique ability to get converted into any type of cell based on the requirement in the body) into these cells. The size of these cells increase at a faster rate too as more number of fat molecules get stored inside them.

What is the Fat Virus Ad-36?

  • It is a highly infectious virus which causes respiratory conditions like pneumonia, sore throat and cold.
  • All the known 50 strains of this virus can replicate themselves in the fat tissues by infecting them increasing their production in unhealthy ways.
  • However, it was found that not all the people who were infected with Ad-36 became fat.
  • A research study showed that about 30% of obese people had Ad-36 virus, and only 11% lean people had this virus. It was also found that monkeys when infected with this virus, became fat.
  • Research is going on to find out the reasons as to why some people become fat and the various ways to treat this problem.


Obesity has become an epidemic – primarily due to unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyles. But, reports of the presence of

adenovirus 36

which can trigger excess weight gain are quite alarming.

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