Zika virus (ZIKV) is mainly transmitted through Aedes mosquito bites, but sexual and post-transfusion transmissions have been reported. During acute infection, ZIKV is detectable in most organs and body fluids including human semen. Although it is not currently epidemic, there is a concern that the virus can still reemerge since the male genital tract might harbor persistent reservoirs that could facilitate viral transmission over extended periods, raising concerns among public health and assisted reproductive technologies (ART) experts and professionals. So far, the consensus is that ZIKV infection in the testes or epididymis might affect sperm development and, consequently, male fertility. Still, diagnostic tests have not yet been adapted to resource-restricted countries. This manuscript provides an updated overview of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of ZIKV infection and reviews data on ZIKV persistence in semen and associated risks to the male reproductive system described in human and animal models studies. We provide an updated summary of the impact of the recent ZIKV outbreak on human-ART, weighing on current recommendations and diagnostic approaches, both available and prospective, with special emphasis on mass spectrometry-based biomarker discovery. In the light of the identified gaps in our accumulated knowledge on the subject, we highlight the importance for couples seeking ART to follow the constantly revised guidelines and the need of specific ZIKV diagnosis tools for semen screening to contain ZIKV virus spread and make ART safer.
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Financial support from the Purdue University Women’s Global Health Institute (WGHI) and Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) through Mildred Elizabeth Edmundson Research (MEER) award PDT 728 2017 is acknowledged.
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Borges, E.D., Vireque, A.A., Berteli, T.S. et al. An update on the aspects of Zika virus infection on male reproductive system. J Assist Reprod Genet 36, 1339–1349 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10815-019-01493-y