Animal Reproduction (AR)
Animal Reproduction (AR)

Testicular damage without clinical manifestations in BALB/c mice experimentally infected with Zika virus

Derick Mendes Bandeira; Arthur da Costa Rasinhas; Raphael Leonardo; Marcos Alexandre Nunes da Silva; Eduarda Lima Araujo; Gisela Freitas Trindade; Renata Tourinho Santos; Ygara da Silva Mendes; Ortrud Monika Barth; Debora Ferreira Barreto-Vieira

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In 2015-2016, the Zika virus (ZIKV) caused a major epidemic in the Americas, increasing cases of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. During this period, the discovery of ZIKV sexual transmission intensified studies on the impact of this virus on the reproductive organs. For this study, 2-month-old male BALB/c mice were infected with 1.26 x 106 PFU/mL of ZIKV in solution via the intravenous route. After three, seven, and fourteen days post-infection (DPI), blood and testicle samples were obtained to detect ZIKV RNA. The authors observed that the infected animals had slower weight gain than the control group. Viremia occurred only at 3DPI, and the ZIKV RNA was detected in one testis sample at 7DPI. The histopathological analysis of this organ revealed intense disorganization of the seminiferous tubules' structure, inflammatory infiltrate, necrosis, hemorrhage, fluid accumulation, congestion of blood vessels, and reduced sperm count. Ultrastructural analysis showed nuclear changes in tubule cells, activation of interstitial cells, and morphological changes in spermatozoa, in addition to fragmentation and decreased electron density of the genetic material of these cells. Thus, despite causing predominantly asymptomatic infections, ZIKV can cause significant subclinical and transient damage, including to male reproductive organs.


Zika virus, Inbred BALB/c mice, testis


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