A new study hints that the coronavirus infects fat cells and
certain immune cells in fat.
The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 may directly infect fat cells and
specific immune cells found in fat tissue, The New York Times
In a recent study, posted to the preprint database bioRxiv on
Oct. 25, scientists experimented with fat tissue obtained from
bariatric surgeries, to see if the tissue could be infected by
the coronavirus. They found that fat cells, known as adipocytes,
could become infected and developed a low level of inflammation.
They also found that immune cells housed within the fat tissue,
called macrophages, also became infected and kicked off a much
more intense inflammatory response.
In addition to these experiments, the team examined fat tissue
from patients who died from COVID-19 infections and found
coronavirus particles in the fat that surrounded various organs.
Viruses like HIV and influenza can squirrel themselves away in
fat tissue, as a way of hiding from the immune system; several
experts told the Times that SARS-CoV-2 could theoretically do
something similar, making fat a reservoir for the virus.