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Patients with excess fat around their organs more likely to experience severe COVID-19

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — According to a new study published in Nature Communications, scientists say excess fat may lead to a more severe COVID-19 infections. 

In a lab study, researchers in Poland looked at 47 fat tissue samples from people who died from the virus. They looked at both subcutaneous fat, the type that sits just beneath a person’s skin, and visceral fat. Visceral fat surrounds the organs and is considered the more dangerous of the two because of where it is located. 

Investigators found 50 percent of the tissue samples were infected with the virus. 

In the experiment, both types showed infection however, researchers say an excess of unwanted visceral fat is more harmful because of its increased ability to attract COVID-19 than subcutaneous fat.

“Visceral adipocytes are more susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2,” lead study author, Dr. Marcelo Mori, wrote in a news release. “Viral load increased far more in this fat cell type than in subcutaneous adipocytes. We believe this was due mainly to higher levels of the protein ACE-2 [to which the virus binds to invade cells] on the cell surface.”