O coronavirus he can infect the tissues of the male genital tractaccording to new research on monkeys rhesus. The finding suggests that symptoms such as erectile dysfunction reported by some Covid-19 patients may be caused directly by the virus, not the virus. inflammation or fever that usually accompanies the disease.
Research has shown that the coronavirus has infected prostate, penis, testes, and surrounding blood vessels in three rhesus macaques. They were examined with body scanners specially designed to detect sites of infection.
The scientists – who had hoped to find the coronavirus in places like the lungs, but had no idea where else they would find it – were somewhat surprised by the discovery.
“The signal that stuck out to us was full spread through the male genital tract,” said Thomas Hope, lead author of the paper and professor of cell and developmental biology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. . “We had no idea we would find him there.”
When his team initially analyzed a scanned image of the first animal, one of the scientists asked, “What sex was the animal again?” Hope said.
“I said, ‘I think it’s a female.’ And she said, ‘I don’t think it’s a female.’ testicles were well lit.” Hope said.
The paper relied on findings in just three monkeys, but the findings were consistent, Hope said. The study has not yet been peer-reviewed for publication in a journal and was published Monday (28) on the bioRxiv website.
The work was conducted at the Tulane National Primate Research Center in Louisiana. The researchers don’t know if the monkeys had symptoms consistent with the viral infection of the male reproductive tract, such as low testosterone, low sperm count, pain or sexual dysfunction, Hope said.
About 10 to 20% of men infected with coronavirus show symptoms linked to dysfunction of the genital tract, according to studies.
Men infected with the virus are three to six times more likely than others to develop erectile dysfunction, which is thought to be a Covid-19 long-term indicator.
Patients have also reported symptoms such as testicular pain, decreased sperm count and quality, decreased fertility and hypogonadisma condition in which the testicles produce insufficient amounts of testosterone, resulting in low libido, sexual dysfunction, and reduced fertility.
Other viruses are known to affect fertility, Hope noted. “Mumps is historically most famous for causing infertility“, he said. ” The virus Zika goes to the testicles and infects them, and the Ebola can do it too.”
While a small fraction of men experience such complications after being infected with the coronavirus, millions could experience sexual and reproductive health issues after the pandemic, simply because the virus has infected so many people around the world, warned Hope.
He urged men to get vaccinated and seek medical evaluation if they are concerned about their sexual or reproductive health.
THE positron emission tomography used in the new study is designed to identify sites of coronavirus infection in live animals. The technology allows repeated and sequential scans of an animal, tracking how the virus moves through the body and how it is shed.
Now Hope wants to determine if the testicles are a reservoir for the coronavirus, a hypothesis raised by some scientists. He will also examine whether the virus infects the tissues of the female reproductive system.
The hope is to use the information to develop treatments that lessen the effect of the pandemic on fertility. Scans can also detect the location of the virus in patients and tailor treatments accordingly.
Translated by Luiz Roberto M. Gonçalves