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Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2001 Jun;65(2):208-31 ; first and second pages, table of contents.

Viruses in the mammalian male genital tract and their effects on the reproductive system.

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GERM-INSERM U435, Université de Rennes I, Campus de Beaulieu, 35042 Rennes Cedex, France.


This review describes the various viruses identified in the semen and reproductive tracts of mammals (including humans), their distribution in tissues and fluids, their possible cell targets, and the functional consequences of their infectivity on the reproductive and endocrine systems. The consequences of these viral infections on the reproductive tract and semen can be extremely serious in terms of organ integrity, development of pathological and cancerous processes, and transmission of diseases. Furthermore, of essential importance is the fact that viral infection of the testicular cells may result not only in changes in testicular function, a serious risk for the fertility and general health of the individual (such as a fall in testosteronemia leading to cachexia), but also in the possible transmission of virus-induced mutations to subsequent generations. In addition to providing an exhaustive account of the data available in these domains, this review focuses attention on the fact that the interface between endocrinology and virology has so far been poorly explored, particularly when major health, social and economical problems are posed. Our conclusions highlight the research strategies that need to be developed. Progress in all these domains is essential for the development of new treatment strategies to eradicate viruses and to correct the virus-induced dysfunction of the endocrine system.

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