Obesity leads to a breakdown of the body's protective mechanism, creating the optimal environment for auto-immune diseases, and creates an environment that may hinder its treatment, showed the study.

"We have been aware of a long list of causes of auto-immune disorders - infections, smoking, pesticides, lack of vitamins, and so forth. But in the last five years, a new factor has emerged that cannot be ignored: obesity," said Yehuda Shoenfeld from the Tel Aviv University in Israel.

As around 35 percent of the global community is overweight or obese and more than 10 auto-immune diseases are known to be associated with increased weight, it is critical to probe obesity's involvement in the pathology of such diseases, noted Yehuda.

Yehuda conducted a review of 329 studies from around the world on the relationship between obesity, adipokines (compounds secreted by fat tissue and involved in numerous physiological functions including the immune response), and immune-related conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

"According to our study and the clinical and experimental data reviewed, the involvement of adipokines in the pathogenesis of these auto-immune diseases is clear," added Shoenfeld.

"We were able to detail the metabolic and immunological activities of the main adipokines featured in the development and prognosis of several immune-related conditions," concluded Shoenfeld.

The study appeared in Autoimmunity Reviews.

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