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MINI-REVIEW: COVID-19 Pandemic and Male Fertility: Clinical Manifestations and Pathogenic Mechanisms

Adel Abdel-Moneima

Molecular Physiology Division, Faculty of Science, Beni-Suef University, 62511 Beni-Suef, Egypt

Received October 21, 2020; Revised January 3, 2021; Accepted January 7, 2021
The novel coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has been a major public health emergency worldwide with over 118.27-million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2.62-million deaths recorded, as of March 12, 2021. Although this disease primarily targets lungs, damages in other organs, such as heart, kidney, liver, and testis, may occur. Testis is the cornerstone of male reproduction, while reproductive health is the most valuable resource for continuity of the human race. Given the unique nature of SARS-CoV-2, the mechanisms of its impact on the testes have yet to be fully explored. Notably, coronaviruses have been found to invade target cells through the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptor, which can be found in the respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, urinary tract, and reproductive organs, such as testes. Coronavirus studies have suggested that testes might be a potential target for SARS-CoV-2 infection. The first etiopathogenic concept proposed by current hypotheses indicates that the virus can invade testes through the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptor. Next, the activated inflammatory response in the testes, disease-associated fever, and COVID-19 medications might be implicated in testicular alterations. Although evidence regarding the presence of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA in semen remains controversial, this emphasizes the need for researchers to pay closer attention to sexually transmitted diseases and male fertility after recovering from COVID-19. In this review the latest updates regarding COVID-19-associated testicular dysfunction are summarized and possible pathogenic mechanisms are discussed.
KEY WORDS: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, testis, manifestations, pathogenicity, male fertility

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297921040015