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Does your body fat play a role in providing immunity against viruses?

We are looking for volunteers to help us understand whether immune cells that are responsible for protecting us against infections can be found in fat tissue.

Background information

Find out more about our study.

Fat tissue (also known as adipose tissue) does not only contain energy storing fat cells, but it also contains a variety of other cell types, including cells of the immune system. We know cells of the immune system found in blood and other body tissues can protect us against infections, but it is not known if immune cells found in fat tissue have the same role.

With your help, we will aim to analyse these particular cells in fat tissue to discover more about our immunity against viruses.

Study information

We will be recruiting for this study until January 2024, or until we reach capacity.

What's involved in the study

Two visits to a laboratory at the University of Bath:

1) A 2 hour 30-minute measurement visit, followed by an 8-day period of physical activity monitoring.

You will be asked to complete a questionnaire, have your body composition and blood pressure assessed, and take part in a 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test, where you rest on a medical bed, consume a sugary drink, and have small blood samples collected from a forearm vein (just like when visiting your local doctor). You will then be fitted with a physical activity monitoring armband to wear on your upper arm for 8 days.

2) A 45-minute blood sample and fat biopsy visit.

You will rest on a medical bed so a blood sample can be collected from a forearm vein. Then, a fat biopsy will be collected under local anaesthetic – you will not feel any pain and the area will be numb for around an hour. The biopsy will be collected using a needle to pierce the skin near to your belly button to collect some fat tissue.

If you are female participant, we will ask you to attend the laboratory on days 1-10 of the menstrual cycle. All participants will be asked to refrain from exercise, alcohol and caffeine for 24 hours prior to each visit.


We are looking for men and women to take part, and you should meet the following criteria:

  • Be between 18 and 55 years old.
  • Have received two, three or four doses of any COVID-19 vaccination
  • Have never been diagnosed with a chronic disease (e.g. cancer, cardiovascular disease)
  • Be a non-smoker
  • Females need to be pre-menopausal

What you'll get for taking part

By taking part, you will help us to better understand the role of immune cells in fat tissue. In addition, feedback will be provided on the following variables: body mass index, blood pressure, a summary of physical activity behaviours and aspects of immune function (including immunity to COVID-19).


All of your data will be handled in line with the General Data Protection Regulation. You will not be identifiable in any publications. Your data will be stored on the University of Bath’s secure computer server and will only be accessible by the research team.1

We'd love for you to be involved.

Take part in our research

Get in touch

If you have any questions about this research study, please contact the lead researcher.

1 This project has been approved by the University of Bath, Research Ethics Approval Committee for Health (REACH) [reference: EP 20/21 093]