Monkey pox is present in the testicles of macaques, which indicates the possibility of human transmission by sexual means

PARIS, October 18 (Benin News) –

According to a study published online in the journal Nature Microbiology, scientists first detected the monkeypox virus in the testes of macaques during the acute phase of infection. In addition, the team found preliminary evidence of persistent infection in two animals that survived testing for the virus. Their results emphasize the possibility of sexual transmission of the virus to humans.

The current 2022 monkeypox outbreak was linked to sexual contact between patients with laboratory-confirmed infection. Because the virus can be transmitted through direct contact with body fluids and skin lesions, understanding the biology of monkeypox testicular infection and virus transmission in semen has important public health implications.

Researchers at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) conducted a retrospective analysis of monkeypox virus infection in archival tissue samples from crab-eating macaques, a non-human primate model widely used to study disease and evaluate the effectiveness of medical countermeasures. , such as vaccines and treatments for monkeypox.

“We examined tissue samples obtained both during the acute phase of the disease, when the infection is at its peak, and during the convalescent phase, when the infection gradually subsides,” explains author, director, Dr. Xiangkun (Kevin) Zeng, USAMRIID. We found monkeypox virus in the interstitial cells and seminiferous tubules of the testis, as well as in the lumen of the epididymis, which are the sites of sperm production and maturation.

According to Zeng, the team also found preliminary evidence of persistence of monkeypox virus infection in two convalescent crab-eating macaques that survived exposure to the virus.

Using histological analysis to analyze disease progression in tissue samples under a microscope, the USAMRIID team found that while the monkeypox virus was cleared from most organs and healed skin lesions during recovery, it could be detected up to 37 days after exposure in macaque testes.

USAMRIID researchers led by Zeng previously showed that the Ebola, Marburg, Nipah and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever viruses can persist in some organs of surviving primates with suppressed immune systems. These immunologically privileged sites, similar in humans, include the eyes, brain, and testes.

Although close contact through sexual activity has been linked to the spread of monkeypox virus during the current global outbreak, it is not known whether the virus replicated in the testes or was transmitted through semen.

“Our data show that monkeypox virus can be transmitted through semen in both the acute and convalescent phases of crab-eating macaques,” says Zeng. Thus, it seems likely that human-to-male convalescent transmission may occur through semen. The authors also note that persistent virus can be released over time.

Because this was a retrospective study using archival tissue, it was not possible to isolate the virus from semen, says Dr. Jun Liu, first author of the paper. Further studies are now needed to understand the origin, dynamics, and consequences of viral DNA shed in semen, and to confirm whether the semen of monkeypox convalescents contains infectious virus, especially after skin lesions have healed.

In addition, according to the authors, the crab macaque model may not fully reflect monkeypox in humans. Animals show a more severe and fatal disease than humans, and animals have a shorter incubation period. This study also used samples from animals exposed to virus isolates other than the circulating strain.

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