According to Professor Li Yufeng, a leading doctor at Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, a new medical report shows that COVID-19 has much in common with the severe acute respiratory syndrome virus, or SARS, which infected people across the world in 2002 and 2003.
During the SARS outbreak, The Daily Mail reports that medical professionals observed “serious immune system damage in the testicles of some male patients.”
Specifically, the fact that COVID-19 and SARS share the same host cell receptor, known as ACE2, has researchers concerned that the current virus could have a similar impact on male fertility. ACE2, a converting enzyme, is highly concentrated in the testes.
“The new coronavirus invades cells through the combination of spike protein (S protein) and host cell angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), causing tissue damage,” noted a report from Professor Yufeng’s team. “In addition to the lung, ACE2 is also expressed in many other organs of the human body, such as the testes, small intestine, kidney, heart, and thyroid. Among them, the testis expresses a large amount of ACE2, mainly concentrated in testicular spermatogonia, support cells and mesenchymal cells, which are closely related to male reproductive function.”
The professor who leads the hospital’s Centre for Reproductive Medicine is now urging doctors to test male fertility in recovered coronavirus patients.
“For men who have had the infection, especially those who need to reproduce, it is best to undergo relevant fertility tests, such as sperm quality and hormone level tests, upon recovery to detect possible problems as soon as possible,” the hospital report concludes.
No official studies have been conducted to prove the link between the virus and male fertility, but these experts at the epicenter of the pandemic hope to learn more soon.
Katie Nave is a freelance writer, producer, and mama living in Brooklyn, New York. Driven by her passion for storytelling, she is always seeking opportunities to elevate people who are working to better the world around them.
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