Background: Human adenovirus-36 (Ad-36) increases adiposity and paradoxically lowers serum cholesterol and triglycerides in chickens, mice, and non-human primates. The role of Ad-36 in human obesity is unknown.
Objectives: To determine the prevalence of Ad-36 antibodies in obese and nonobese humans. To evaluate the association of Ad-36 antibodies with body mass index (BMI) and serum lipids.
Design: Cohort study. Volunteers from obesity treatment programs, communities, and a research study.
Subjects: Obese and nonobese volunteers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, and the Bowen Center, Naples, Florida. Obese and thin volunteer research subjects and 89 twin pairs at Columbia University, New York.
Interventions: Study 1: 502 subjects; serum neutralization assay for antibodies to Ad-2, Ad-31, Ad-36, and Ad-37; serum cholesterol and triglycerides assays. Study 2: BMI and %body fat in 28 twin pairs discordant for Ad-36 antibodies.
Main outcome measures: Presence of antibodies to adenoviruses, BMI, serum cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
Results: Significant (P < 0.001) association of obesity and positive Ad-36 antibody status, independent of age, sex, and collection site. Ad-36 antibodies in 30% of obese, 11% of nonobese. Lower serum cholesterol and triglycerides (P < 0.003) in Ad-36 antibody-positive vs -negative subjects. Twin pairs: antibody-positive twins had higher BMIs (24.5+/-5.2 vs 23.1+/-4.5 kg/m2, P < 0.03) and %body fat (29.6+/-9.5% vs 27.5+/-9.9%, P < 0.04). No association of Ad-2, Ad-31, or Ad-37 antibodies with BMI or serum lipids.
Conclusions: Ad-36 is associated with increased body weight and lower serum lipids in humans. Prospective studies are indicated to determine if Ad-36 plays a role in the etiology of human obesity.