The Cellular Impact of the ZIKA Virus on Male Reproductive Tract Immunology and Physiology

Cells. 2020 Apr 18;9(4):1006. doi: 10.3390/cells9041006.


Zika virus (ZIKV) has been reported by several groups as an important virus causing pathological damage in the male reproductive tract. ZIKV can infect and persist in testicular somatic and germ cells, as well as spermatozoa, leading to cell death and testicular atrophy. ZIKV has also been detected in semen samples from ZIKV-infected patients. This has huge implications for human reproduction. Global scientific efforts are being applied to understand the mechanisms related to arboviruses persistency, pathogenesis, and host cellular response to suggest a potential target to develop robust antiviral therapeutics and vaccines. Here, we discuss the cellular modulation of the immunologic and physiologic properties of the male reproductive tract environment caused by arboviruses infection, focusing on ZIKV. We also present an overview of the current vaccine effects and therapeutic targets against ZIKV infection that may impact the testis and male fertility.

Keywords: Leydig cells; Sertoli cells; ZIKA virus; arboviruses; infertility.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Germ Cells / virology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sertoli Cells / pathology
  • Sertoli Cells / virology*
  • Testis / immunology
  • Testis / pathology
  • Testis / virology*
  • Virus Replication / immunology
  • Zika Virus / immunology
  • Zika Virus / pathogenicity
  • Zika Virus Infection* / immunology
  • Zika Virus Infection* / prevention & control
  • Zika Virus Infection* / virology