Susceptibility of Fat Tissue to SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Female hACE2 Mouse Model

Hariprasad Thangavel, Dhanya Dhanyalayam, Kezia Lizardo, Neelam Oswal, Enriko Dolgov, David S. Perlin, Jyothi F. Nagajyothi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a highly contagious viral illness caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). COVID-19 has had a catastrophic effect globally causing millions of deaths worldwide and causing long-lasting health complications in COVID-19 survivors. Recent studies including ours have highlighted that adipose tissue can act as a reservoir where SARS-CoV-2 can persist and cause long-term health problems. Here, we evaluated the effect of SARS-CoV-2 infection on adipose tissue physiology and the pathogenesis of fat loss in a murine COVID-19 model using humanized angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) mice. Since epidemiological studies reported a higher mortality rate of COVID-19 in males than in females, we examined hACE2 mice of both sexes and performed a comparative analysis. Our study revealed for the first time that: (a) viral loads in adipose tissue and the lungs differ between males and females in hACE2 mice; (b) an inverse relationship exists between the viral loads in the lungs and adipose tissue, and it differs between males and females; and (c) CoV-2 infection alters immune signaling and cell death signaling differently in SARS-CoV-2 infected male and female mice. Overall, our data suggest that adipose tissue and loss of fat cells could play important roles in determining susceptibility to CoV-2 infection in a sex-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1314
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • adipocytes
  • adipose tissue
  • apoptosis
  • cell death
  • fat loss
  • hACE2 mice
  • immune signaling
  • inflammatory cytokines


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