Abstract

An obesity syndrome was found in a number of mice infected as young adults with canine distemper virus, a morbillivirus antigenically related to measles. Body weights of obese animals 16 to 20 weeks after infection were comparable to those reported for genetically obese mice and for mice rendered obese by hypothalamic lesions. The total number of adipocytes in specific fat deposits was greater in obese animals than in their lean littermates. This hyperplasia was accompanied by moderate cell enlargement. Pancreatic islet tissue was also hypercellular in the obese mice. Brain tissue from the obese mice showed no overt pathology, and immunofluorescence staining for viral antigens was negative. There may be a selective, virus-induced disruption of critical brain catecholamine pathways.