Researchers at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami are the first to show that COVID-19 can be present in penile tissue long after men have recovered from the virus.
The generalized blood vessel dysfunction, or endothelial dysfunction, that results from COVID-19 infection could then contribute to erectile dysfunction, or ED, according to the study recently published in the Global Journal of Men’s Health. Endothelial dysfunction is a condition in which the lining of small blood vessels does not perform all of its functions normally. As a result, the tissues supplied by these vessels could be damaged.
“Our research shows that COVID-19 can cause widespread endothelial dysfunction in organ systems beyond the lungs and kidneys. The underlying endothelial dysfunction that occurs from COVID-19 can enter endothelial cells and affect many organs, including the penis, âsaid study author Ranjith Ramasamy, MD, associate professor and director of the Miller School’s Reproductive Urology program. “In our pilot study, we found that men who did not previously complain of erectile dysfunction developed quite severe erectile dysfunction after the onset of COVID-19 infection.”
Dr Ramasamy and his colleagues took penile tissue from two men with a history of COVID-19 infection who had penile prosthesis surgery for ED. One of the men was hospitalized with COVID-19, while the other patient had only mild symptoms when he contracted the virus.
The researchers also collected tissue from two additional men with no history of COVID-19 infection undergoing the same erectile dysfunction surgery. Investigators analyzed all tissue samples not only for the virus, but also for endothelial dysfunction.
They found that COVID-19 was present in the penile tissue of the two infected men, but not in men without a history of the virus. The men had been infected six and eight months previously, respectively. These men showed signs of endothelial dysfunction, unlike the virus-free men.
“This suggests that men who develop COVID-19 infection should be aware that erectile dysfunction could be a side effect of the virus, and they should see a doctor if they develop symptoms of erectile dysfunction,” said Dr Ramasamy.
The authors hypothesize that, like other complications from COVID-19, widespread infection and subsequent endothelial dysfunction could lead to erectile dysfunction, and that worsening erectile dysfunction could be due to the presence of the virus. in the penile tissue itself.
In a previously published study, colleagues at Dr Ramasamy and the Miller School found that COVID-19 can also invade testicular tissue in some men infected with the virus, which could be the first step in understanding the potential impact. of the virus on male fertility and whether COVID-19 can be transmitted sexually.
âThese latest findings are another reason why we should all do our best to avoid COVID-19,â said first author Eliyahu Kresch, a medical student working with Dr Ramasamy.
âWe recommend vaccination and trying to stay safe in general,â Kresch said.
Miller School co-authors are medical student Justin K. Achua, MS; Russell Saltzman Clinical Research Coordinator; clinical research associate Kajal Khodamoradi, Ph.D .; Research Assistant Professor in Urology Himanshu Arora, Ph.D .; Assistant Professor of Urology and Neurological Surgery Emad Ibrahim, MD, HCLD; Associate Professor of Pathology Oleksandr N. Kryvenko, MD; Transmission electron microscopy nucleus Vania Wolff Almeida; Fakiha Firdaus; and Founding Director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute Joshua M. Hare, MD
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