Case series – COVID-19 is unlikely to affect male fertility: Results of histopathological and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis
Keywords:COVID-19, male fertility, urology
Introduction: We aimed to analyze the testicular histopathology of men who died with active COVID-19 infection.
Methods: We performed autopsy of eight consecutive men who died of COVID-19 pneumonia. Lung and testis tissue of all men were stained for SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) receptor immunohistochemistry (IHC). H&E was performed to assess for spermatogenesis and evidence of testicle tissue damage. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis for SARS-CoV-2 was performed on matched lung and bilateral testicular tissue samples from all men.
Results: Patient age ranged from 50–79 years. SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA was detected by RTPCR in testis tissue in one man. All eight testicle specimens that underwent IHC for ACE2 receptor showed uniformly strong immunoreactivity against all testicle cell populations. By H&E, all testis specimens showed no inflammation, vascular thrombosis, vasculitis, or morphological evidence of viral changes. One case showed diminished but not absent spermatogenesis, consistent with patient age.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that SARS-CoV-2 is unlikely to affect male fertility. Contrary to all prior histological studies, our results showed no evidence of damage to reproductive tissues that might impair fertility.
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