COVID-19 Research: Study Links The Hormone Leptin In Obese Individuals To Increased COVID-19 Severity And Mortality
: Researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University System have established a possible link between the hormone Leptin and the increased risk of severity and mortality in obese COVID-19 patients.
Leptin is a hormone that connects the body's metabolism and immune response system and it may explain why the COVID-19 idisease is so dangerous for individuals with obesity.
The research findings were published in Nature’s International Journal Of Obesity.
Dr Candida Rebello, Ph.D., RD, lead author of a new research that traces the link between obesity and the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus told Thailand Medical News, "The problem for people with obesity is that their leptin levels are always high, and that can affect the response to a COVID-19 infection.”
Typically, the hormone leptin regulates appetite and metabolism. Leptin also regulates the cells that fight infection. Leptin is produced by fat cells, and to a lesser extent by tissues in the lungs. The more fat a person has, the more leptin circulates in their body.
It has been observed that elevated leptin levels hamper the body's ability to fight off infections, in the lungs and elsewhere, Dr. Rebello said. High leptin levels promote a low-grade systemic inflammatory state.
Dr John Kirwan, Ph.D., Pennington Biomedical Executive Director and a co-author of the review added, "If you have obesity, there are a number of underlying health issues that make it more difficult for you to fight off a COVID-19 infection."
He further added, "Your entire body, including your lungs, may be inflamed. Your immune response is likely compromised, and your lung capacity reduced. Add in a virus that further weakens the body's ability to fight infection, that can limit the body's ability to control lung inflammation, and you have the recipe for disaster."
The researchers also warned that COVID-19 vaccine developers should take the immunocompromised state resulting from obesity into consideration, in much the same way they would advancing age.
The study team says the role of leptin in COVID-19's development bears investigation along with the viral proteins that alter the immune systems of people with obesity. One potential avenue of treatment may be a drug that prevents inflammatory responses to the virus.
Significantly, another potential avenue of investigation includes examining how proinflammatory fat tissue in people with obesity might contribute to activating fewer infection-fighting cells and why those cells die more quickly.
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