Testicular degeneration and infertility following arbovirus infection

Puggioni, G. et al. (2018) Testicular degeneration and infertility following arbovirus infection. Journal of Virology, 92(19), e01131-18. (doi: 10.1128/JVI.01131-18) (PMID:30021901) (PMCID:PMC6146814)

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Arboviruses can cause a variety of clinical signs including febrile illness, arthritis, encephalitis and hemorrhagic fever. The recent Zika epidemic highlighted the possibility that arboviruses may also negatively affect the male reproductive tract. In this study, we focused on bluetongue virus (BTV), the causative agent of bluetongue and one of the major arboviruses of ruminants. We show that rams that recovered from bluetongue displayed signs of testicular degeneration and azoospermia up to 100 days after the initial infection. Importantly, testicular degeneration was induced in rams experimentally infected with either a high (BTV-1IT2006) or low (BTV-1IT2013) virulence strain of BTV. Rams infected with the low virulent BTV strain displayed testicular lesions in the absence of other major clinical signs. Testicular lesions in BTV-infected rams were due to viral replication in the endothelial cells of the peritubular areas of the testes, resulting in stimulation of a type-I IFN response, reduction of testosterone biosynthesis by Leydig cells, and destruction of Sertoli cells and the blood-testis barrier in more severe cases. Hence, BTV induces testicular degeneration and disruption of spermatogenesis by replicating solely in the endothelial cells of the peritubular areas unlike other gonadotropic viruses. This study shows that a naturally occurring arboviral disease can cause testicular degeneration and affect male fertility at least temporarily.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This study was also funded by the Italian Ministry of Health (grant # RC IZS SA 01/13).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Melzi, Miss Eleonora and Palmarini, Professor Massimo
Authors: Puggioni, G., Pintus, D., Melzi, E., Meloni, G., Rocchigiani, A. M., Maestrale, C., Manunta, D., Savini, G., Dattena, M., Oggiano, A., Palmarini, M., and Ligios, C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity > Centre for Virus Research
Journal Name:Journal of Virology
Publisher:American Society for Microbiology
ISSN (Online):1098-5514
Published Online:18 July 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Puggioni et al.
First Published:First published in Journal of Virology 92(19): e01131-18
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
3010490Host determinants of disease outcomes in arboviral infectionsMassimo PalmariniWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)206369/Z/17/ZIII - Centre for Virus Research