Background/objectives: Adenovirus-36 (Adv-36) infection is associated with exaggerated adipogenesis in cell culture and the development of obesity in animal models and humans, but a causal relationship remains unproven. Our objective was to determine whether serological evidence of Adv-36 infection in childhood and/or adulthood is associated with adult obesity.
Subjects/methods: Paired plasma concentrations of Adv-36 antibodies were measured by a novel enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in a subgroup (n=449) of the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study in childhood (mean age 11.9 years) and adulthood (mean age 41.3 years). The study group included (1) individuals who had maintained normal-weight status (2) those who became obese adults from a normal-weight status in childhood and (3) those that were overweight/obese as a child and obese as an adult.
Results: Mean (s.d.) time between baseline and follow-up was 29.4 (3.2) years (range 21-31 years). A total of 24.4% of individuals who were normal weight throughout life were seropositive for Adv-36 during child and/or adulthood as compared with 32.3% of those who became obese adults (P=0.11). Those who became obese in adulthood were more likely to be Adv-36 seropositive as adults compared with those who maintained normal weight (21.3% vs. 11.6%, P=0.02). This difference was mediated by a decline in Adv-36 seropositivity between child and adulthood in those maintaining normal weight. No differences were observed in body mass index across the life course, nor in waist circumference in adult life, between those who were Adv-36 seronegative or seropositive at any age.
Conclusions: Individuals who gained weight across the life course were more likely to be Adv-36 seropositive in adult life than those who did not gain weight. However, analysis of change in weight status in relation to Adv-36 positivity did not support a causal role for Adv-36 in the development of obesity.