Detection of SARS-CoV-2 in subcutaneous fat but not visceral fat, and the disruption of fat lymphocyte homeostasis in both fat tissues in the macaque

Commun Biol. 2022 Jun 3;5(1):542. doi: 10.1038/s42003-022-03503-9.


The well documented association between obesity and the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection raises the question of whether adipose tissue (AT) is impacted during this infection. Using a model of SARS-CoV-2 infection in cynomolgus macaques, we detected the virus within subcutaneous AT (SCAT) but not in visceral AT (VAT) or epicardial AT on day 7 post-infection. We sought to determine the mechanisms responsible for this selective detection and observed higher levels of angiotensin-converting-enzyme-2 mRNA expression in SCAT than in VAT. Lastly, we evaluated the immunological consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection on AT: both SCAT and VAT T cells showed a drastic reduction in CD69 expression, a standard marker of resident memory T cell in tissue, that is also involved in the migratory and metabolic properties of T cells. Our results demonstrate that in a model of mild infection, SCAT is selectively infected by SARS-CoV-2 although changes in the immune properties of AT are observed in both SCAT and VAT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Animals
  • COVID-19*
  • Homeostasis
  • Lymphocytes
  • Macaca
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Subcutaneous Fat / metabolism