In a new study on obesity scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have found that obesity may cause a hyperactive immune system response to the Covid-19 infection which makes it difficult to fight the virus.
According to the study published in the journal 'Endocrinology', 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 pre-existing condition is faced with an infection, it could lead to hyper-activation of the immune system but in a detrimental way that does not fight the infection.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has made us aware of the complex interactions of obesity with infectious diseases and the gaps in our understanding of how chronic health conditions affect our immune responses to acute infection," said study author Durga Singer from the University of Michigan in the US. Recent evidence has highlighted how one part of the immune system, the macrophage, may be a culprit in driving severe Covid-19 disease.
"Our manuscript focuses on what is already known about the interaction of obesity, macrophages and other infections like influenza," Singer added. "These findings highlight the importance of understanding how obesity might interact with new drugs or vaccines developed for Covid-19."
In this review, the authors described 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.
"We consider that obesity-driven dysregulation of innate immune responses may drive organ injury in the development of severe Covid-19 and impair viral clearance," the study authors wrote. Recently, a study presented at The European and International Congress on obesity (ECOICO 2020) showed that patients with obesity were facing more serious Covid-19 disease and higher mortality risk than patients without obesity.
Another study published in August in the journal 'Diabetes Care' found that Covid-19 patients hospitalised with high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes were over three times more likely to die from the viral disease.
Earlier in July, research published in the European Journal of Endocrinology also revealed that the risk of greater Covid-19 severity and death was higher in people with any obese body mass index(BMI).