About the Project

While COVID-19 patients are still being admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), the Cobesitas-19 research team are studying the mechanisms underlying organ failure in COVID-19 patients. In March 2020 when the first patients were hospitalized, it quickly became apparent that almost all patients admitted to the ICU were overweight or obese. Since then, several important studies characterizing COVID-19 patients have shown that obesity is a major risk factor for the development of severe symptoms and the need for mechanical ventilation.


Recent easing of the COVID-19 measures has led to increasing number of infections and patient hospitalizations. Fortunately, the risk of developing severe symptoms and the need for hospitalization is diminished in vaccinated individuals.  However, not everyone is vaccinated. Moreover, several underlying conditions including obesity are known to significantly reduce vaccine efficacy. Therefore, interventions that address the severe symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 in patients are likely still needed even in vaccinated individuals. 


Our multidisciplinary team of clinicians and researchers are trying to understand why SARS-CoV-2 infection leads to more severe symptoms in overweight individuals to identify therapeutic options that will alleviate severe disease. The mechanisms that cause respiratory failure in obese COVID-19 patients are not yet known. This study is divided into clinical and experimental parts. The clinical part includes examining patient samples, plasma and post-mortem lung, kidney and fat biopsies.  The experimental part investigates the direct response of SARS-CoV-2 virus to different lung and adipose tissue cell types grown in (co)culture models.

Cobesitas-19 sub-projects


Prognostic oRgan Injury plaSma Markers: Investigating longitudinal clinical and plasma biomarker data associated with COVID-19 severity & outcome.


BIOpsy iNtensive Care Studies: Histopathology and mechanistic investigation of lung and kidney injury in patients with severe sepsis and COVID-19. 


AdipoSe TissuE Responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection: Investigating adipose tissue responses to ex vivo SARS-CoV-2 infection. 


MechanIsmS of SARS-CoV-2-induced InflammatiON: Investigating the (in)direct effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection in epithelial and endothelial cells.


Anti-viral & tissue PROtecTive EffeCTs Of Resveratrol: Investigating the anti-viral and cellular protective properties of resveratrol & derivative pterostilbene.