Covid-19 in Man: A Very Dangerous Affair

(E-pub Ahead of Print)

Author(s): Giuseppe Lisco, Vito A. Giagulli, Giovanni De Pergola, Anna De Tullio, Edoardo Guastamacchia, Vincenzo Triggiani*

Journal Name: Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders - Drug Targets
Formerly Current Drug Targets - Immune, Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders

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Background. The novel pandemic of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has becoming a public health issue since March 2020 considering that more than 30 million people were found to be infected worldwide. Particularly, recent evidences suggested that men may be considered as at higher risk of poor prognosis or death once the infection occurred and concerns surfaced in regard of the risk of a possible testicular injury due to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Results. Several data support the existence of a bivalent role of testosterone (T) in driving poor prognosis in patients with COVID-19. On one hand, this is attributable to the fact that T may facilitate SARS-CoV-2 entry in human cells by means of an enhanced expression of transmembrane serine-protease 2 (TMPRSS2) and angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). At the same time, younger man with normal testicular function compared to women of similar age are prone to develop a blunted immune response against SARS-CoV-2, being exposed to less viral clearance and more viral shedding and systemic spread of the disease. Conversely, low levels of serum T observed in hypogonadal men predispose them to a greater background systemic inflammation, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, and immune system dysfunction, hence driving harmful consequences once SARS-CoV-2 infection occurred. Finally, SARS-CoV-2, as a systemic disease, may also affect testicles with possible concerns for current and future testicular efficiency. Preliminary data suggested that SARS-CoV-2 genome is not normally found in gonads and gametes, therefore sex transmission could be excluded as a possible way to spread the COVID-19.

Conclusion. Most data support a role of T as a bivalent risk factor for poor prognosis (high/normal in younger; lower in elderly) in COVID-19. However, the impact of medical treatment aimed to modify T homeostasis for improving the prognosis of affected patients is unknown in this clinical setting. In addition, testicular damage may be a harmful consequence of the infection even in case it occurred asymptomatically but no long-term evidences are currently available to confirm and quantify this phenomenon. Different authors excluded the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in sperm and oocytes, thus limiting worries about both a potential sexual and gamete-to-embryos transmission of COVID-19. Despite these evidence, long-term and well-designed studies are needed to clarify these issues.

Keywords: Covid 19, sars cov 2, male gender, testosterone, erectile dysfunction, review.

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(E-pub Ahead of Print)
DOI: 10.2174/1871530321666210101123801
Price: $95

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