July 27, 2020

Why is obesity the most common comorbidity in COVID-19 patients?

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

The hormone, leptin, which links the body’s metabolism and immune response system, may be the link between obesity and its high prevalence as a comorbidity of COVID-19, this study finds.

Leptin levels are always high in obese people because leptin is produced by fat cells. Elevated leptin levels hamper the body’s ability to fight off infections in the lungs and elsewhere and promote a low-grade systemic inflammatory state.


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COVID-19 patients’ entire bodies, including their lungs may be inflamed, their immune responses are compromised, and their lung capacities are reduced.

In addition, obesity makes mechanical ventilation difficult, and the mechanical effects of lung compression in obese patients contribute to the respiratory symptoms.

COVID-19 vaccine developers should take the immunocompromised state resulting from obesity into consideration, in much the same way they would advancing age, the researchers say.

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