Chinese scientists, led by Li Xiangdong and Gao Fu, revealed that the Zika virus caused male infertility in mice, indicating similar damage to humans.
The study, titled "Zika virus causes testis damage and leads to male infertility in mice," was published online by Cell, an international academic journal, on Tuesday.
The study was carried out by teams led by Li Xiangdong from China Agricultural University and Gao Fu from the Institute of Microbiology of Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The joint study shows that Zika virus can cross the blood-testes-barrier under certain conditions such as immunodeficiency, and infect the reproductive tract in male mice.
Acute inflammation of the testes was observed from eight days after infection along with decreased levels of testosterone, with symptoms persisting 16 days after infection.
At 30 days after infection, a breakdown in the morphology of the testes and disruption of the seminal vesicles can be observed, resulting in completely atrophied testes and seminal vesicles by 60 days after infection.
Li said if a human male is infected with Zika virus, under immunodeficiency or immune inhibition, for instance a person who has had organ transplantation or an AIDS patient, is also likely to have his reproductive system damaged.
Gao said, along with increasing clinical and basic studies, scientists began to realize the harm of Zika virus on human beings might be more severe than had been fathomed, and the war on Zika virus might have just set in.