The coronavirus disease 2019 COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly spreading worldwide and is becoming a major public health crisis. Increasing evidence demonstrates a strong correlation between obesity and the COVID-19 disease. We have summarized recent studies and addressed the impact of obesity on COVID-19 in terms of hospitalization, severity, mortality, and patient outcome. We discuss the potential molecular mechanisms whereby obesity contributes to the pathogenesis of COVID-19. In addition to obesity-related deregulated immune response, chronic inflammation, endothelium imbalance, metabolic dysfunction, and its associated comorbidities, dysfunctional mesenchymal stem cells/adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells may also play crucial roles in fueling systemic inflammation contributing to the cytokine storm and promoting pulmonary fibrosis causing lung functional failure, characteristic of severe COVID-19. Moreover, obesity may also compromise motile cilia on airway epithelial cells and impair functioning of the mucociliary escalators, reducing the clearance of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Obese diseased adipose tissues overexpress the receptors and proteases for the SARS-CoV-2 entry, implicating its possible roles as virus reservoir and accelerator reinforcing violent systemic inflammation and immune response. Finally, anti-inflammatory cytokines like anti-interleukin 6 and administration of mesenchymal stromal/stem cells may serve as potential immune modulatory therapies for supportively combating COVID-19. Obesity is conversely related to the development of COVID-19 through numerous molecular mechanisms and individuals with obesity belong to the COVID-19-susceptible population requiring more protective measures.
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