Early infection of Zika virus in the male reproductive system of AG129 mice: molecular and immunohistochemical evaluation


Sexual transmission of Zika virus (ZIKV), an important arbovirus, and the virus persistence in semen raise several questions about how and where it circulates in the male reproductive system (MRS). Several studies reported detection of the virus in testes, epididymis, and prostate at 5 days post-infection (dpi) or more in animal models. In the present study, we investigated the interactions of ZIKV with mouse MRS using the AG129 strain, a ZIKV permissive immunodeficient mouse strain, at two dpi. Viral RNA was detected in blood, testes, epididymis, and prostatic complexes (prostate and seminal vesicles). Immunohistochemical (IHC) analyses, based on the envelope protein, showed an early infection in organs of MRS since ZIKV positive antigens were detected in cells within or surrounding blood vessels, Sertoli, and germ cells in testes and epithelial cells in epididymis and prostate. Positive antigens for NS5 protein, the virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, were also detected by IHC in these organs and circulating leukocytes, suggesting that the virus replicates in these sites as early as 2 days post-infection. Analysis of the early stages of ZIKV infection in MRS may improve the current knowledge about this issue and contribute to the development of therapies directed to the infection at this site.



AG129, Male reproductive system, Mice, Zika virus, ZIKV

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Brazilian Journal of Microbiology.