The existing evidence suggests that the human reproductive system may be potentially vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. However, little is known about the virus–host interaction of COVID-19 in sperm cells. We are the first to address the connection between changes in multiple seminal biomarkers and reproductive function in male patients recovering from COVID-19. In a prospective longitudinal cohort study, seminal ACE2 activity, markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, apoptotic variables, and semen quality parameters were evaluated at 10-day intervals for a maximum follow-up time of 60 days among male patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 (n = 84) and healthy controls (CON; n = 105). At the baseline and the subsequent follow-ups, the COVID-19 group revealed significantly higher levels of seminal plasma ACE2 enzymatic activity, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, TGF-β, TNF-α, IFN-α, IFN-γ, ROS, caspase-8, caspase-9, and caspase-3 activity as well as lower levels of SOD activity than those in the CON group (P < 0.05). These perturbations tended to persist over time and were correlated with significant impairments in semen volume, progressive motility, sperm morphology, sperm concentration, and the number of spermatozoa. We provide the direct experimental evidence that the male reproductive system could be targeted and damaged by the COVID-19 infection. These findings go beyond our current understanding of the disease, suggesting that the reproductive function of the patients recovering from the disease should be precisely followed and evaluated to detect and avoid more serious reproductive problems in the future, as they may develop a transient state of male subfertility like those with oligoasthenoteratozoospermia.
Behzad Hajizadeh Maleki and Bakhtyar Tartibian
Behzad Hajizadeh Maleki, Bakhtyar Tartibian, and Mohammad Chehrazi
The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT), high-intensity continuous training (HICT) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on markers of male reproduction including seminal markers of oxidative stress and inflammation as well as semen quality and sperm DNA integrity in healthy human subjects. A total of 397 healthy male volunteers were screened and 280 were randomly assigned to one of the MICT (n = 70), HICT (n = 70), HIIT (n = 70) and non-exercise (NON-EX, n = 70) groups. Subjects had inflammatory markers (IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-α), oxidants (ROS, MDA and 8-isoprostane), antioxidants (SOD, catalase and TAC), semen parameters and sperm DNA damage measured at baseline (T1), the end of week 12 (T2), the end of week 24 (T3), and 7 (T4) and 30 days (T5) after training. Chronic MICT, HICT and HIIT attenuated seminal markers of oxidative stress and inflammation with different kinetics for the three types of exercise (P < 0.05), and these changes were correlated with favorable improvements in semen quality parameters and sperm DNA integrity (P < 0.05). MICT was superior to HICT and HIIT in the improvements of markers of male reproductive function (P < 0.05). In conclusion, different exercise modalities favorably affect markers of male reproduction with different kinetics, suggesting intensity-, duration- and type-dependent adaptations to exercise training in healthy human subjects.