Schwimmer says the study was designed to follow up on several other published findings that link AD36 and obesity. One found that presence of antibodies to AD36 was linked to increased levels of body fat in several animal models. Two other reports "supported the association between AD36 and obesity in adults."
Additionally, a study of obese children in Korea found AD36 antibodies in 30% of a study sample.
In cell culture the virus infects pre-adipocyctes or immature fat cells, provoking them to proliferate more than normal.
In the U.S., about one in every three children is overweight or obese, and about 15% are obese.
It remains unclear how often or under what circumstances AD36 infects humans, why it affects different people in different sways and whether weight gain is the result of an active infection or a lasting change in a person's metabolism. In humans, AD36 can cause a variety of respiratory, gastrointestinal and other infections.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.