You are currently viewing The coronavirus can also infect the testicles
in photo: Coronavirus viral particles (in yellow). Credit: NIAID

Although the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 both a respiratory virus, it has long been known that it can affect – both directly and indirectly – almost every tissue of the human organism. Heart, brain, intestines, liver, kidneys and other organs can all be affected by COVID-19, the disease caused by the pandemic pathogen. Several investigations suggest that the virus may also have negative effects on the urogenital system and in particular on the testicles; the Italian Society of Urology (SIU), for example, has detected the viral particles in sperm of 15 percent of the patients involved in a study, as well as alterations in the levels of testosterone e spermatozoa. Now a new investigation conducted in animal models has shown that SARS-CoV-2 can directly infect male sexual organs.

To show that the testicles can be attacked by the pandemic pathogen was a research team led by scientists from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), who collaborated closely with colleagues from the Department of Pathology and the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity . The scientists, led by doctors Rafael Kroon Campos and Shannan Rossi of the University of Galveston, came to their conclusions after infecting Syrian golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) with SARS-CoV-2; these rodents are in fact considered by scientists a good model to study the impact of COVID-19 in its mild form, moreover in the laboratory of Dr. Rossi they have been studied for some time to verify the effects of virus Zika on the testicles.

The analyzes showed that SARS-CoV-2 was detectable in the testes of all infected hamsters during the first week of infection, but its concentrations gradually decreased. L’Viral RNA of the pathogen was detected in the reproductive organs up to one month after exposure to the virus, but without observing histopathological changes. Additionally, through an ex vivo infection model, Dr. Kroon Campos and colleagues also detected the replication of the pathogen in testicular cells hamster. Until now, it was not certain that the coronavirus was able to replicate in the testicles. “Given the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to investigate how this disease can impact the testes and the potential consequences for disease severity, reproductive health and sexual transmission,” said Dr. Kroon Campos. in a press release.

“These findings are the first step in understanding how COVID-19 can affect the male genital tract and potentially the reproductive health of men,” said Professor Rossi, an expert in pathology, microbiology and immunology. “We have a lot more to do before we have the full picture. Moving forward, we will investigate ways to mitigate this impact, including the use of antivirals, antibody therapies and vaccines, ”the expert added. It should be emphasized that the research was conducted on animal models and the results will also have to be confirmed in ad hoc studies on humans. The details of the research “SARS-CoV-2 Infects Hamster Testes” have been published in the specialized scientific journal Microorganism.

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