Targeting the Adipose Tissue in COVID-19.

Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.). 2020

Other resources

Plain language summary

A UK study showed that 72% of COVID-19 patients in critical care units had either overweight or obesity, whilst studies in Italy have shown that 99% of deaths occurred in patients who had at least one underlying chronic condition, including obesity, diabetes and hypertension. As obesity is tightly connected with diabetes and other inflammatory conditions, it is difficult to separate the effects of the obesity per se, from other chronic conditions that are commonly associated with the obesity. The authors discuss possible molecular mechanisms by which the fat tissue itself may increase the risk of more severe COVID-19 disease, such as angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors and dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (two receptors which occur in fat tissue and may be entry points of the virus into the cell) and an imbalance between the secretion of anti‐ and proinflammatory compounds from visceral fat cells. The authors conclude that the role of the adipose (fat) tissue during infectious diseases, such as COVID‐19, could be important and note that this is a modifiable risk factor.


The WHO considers non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as obesity, a major risk factor for becoming seriously ill with 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) (1). A study by the UK Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre indicates that two thirds of people who developed serious or fatal COVID-19-related complications were overweight or obese (2). The report includes data from all COVID-19 admissions in intensive care units in the UK until midnight, March 19, 2020. The study shows that almost 72 % of those in critical care units are either overweight or with obesity suggesting the impact of obesity in seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Hormonal ; Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Covid-19/adipose tissue
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Physical exercise
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition ; Exercise and movement
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable

Methodological quality

Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article