AsianScientist (Dec. 1, 2016) – Researchers in China have revealed how Zika virus infections in mice can lead to acute and chronic testicular damage, eventually leading to infertility. Their study was published in Cell.
Zika virus infections are associated with microcephaly in newborns and Guillain-Barré Syndrome in humans. The joint study, led by Professor George Fu Gao from the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences together with Professor Li Xiangdong from China Agricultural University, shows that Zika virus can cross the blood-testes barrier under certain conditions, such as immunodeficiency, and infect the reproductive tract in male mice.
At 30 days after infection, a breakdown in the morphology of the testes and disruption of the seminal vesicles was observed, resulting in completely atrophied testes and seminal vesicles by 60 days after infection.
Zika virus is closely related to the dengue, Japanese encephalitis and West Nile viruses, all of which are transmitted primarily via mosquito bites. However, the observation that Zika virus can also persist in the semen of convalescent male patients suggests that this pathogen can also be sexually transmitted. This study supports this hypothesis, and highlights the fact that more studies are needed in order to completely understand all mechanisms of Zika virus pathogenesis.
The article can be found at: Ma et al. (2016) Zika Virus Causes Testis Damage and Leads to Male Infertility in Mice.
Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences; Photo: Shutterstock.
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