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Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2014 Mar 12;68:271-9.

Bacteria, viruses, and hypothalamic inflammation: potential new players in obesity.

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Department of Behavioral Pathophysiology, Institute of General and Experimental Pathology, Medical University of Lodz.


Being overweight and obese has become an increasingly serious clinical and socioeconomic problem worldwide. The rapidly rising prevalence of obesity has prompted studies on modifiable, causative factors and novel treatment options for this disorder. Recent evidence indicates that excessive weight gain that leads to being overweight and obese may result from alterations in gut microflora. Studies in humans and animals demonstrated that the composition of gut microbiota may differ in lean and obese subjects, suggesting that these differences result in the increased efficiency of caloric extraction from food, enhanced lipogenesis, and impaired central and peripheral regulation of energy balance. Other studies revealed an excessive increase in body weight in a significant percentage of people infected with human adenoviruses SMAM-1 and Ad-36. Dysregulation of adipocyte function by viruses appears to be the most likely cause of excessive fat accumulation in these individuals. Studies on the pathomechanisms related to the pathogenesis of obesity indicated that a high-fat diet triggers the inflammatory response in the hypothalamus, an event that promotes weight gain and further defends elevated body weight through the initiation of central leptin and insulin resistance and impairment of regenerative capacity of hypothalamic neurons. Exposure to a high-calorie diet appears to predispose individuals to obesity not only because of excessive caloric intake but also because of the induction of microbiota- and central inflammatory response-dependent changes that lead to a dysregulation of energy balance.

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