Zika-Induced Male Infertility in Mice Is Potentially Reversible and Preventable by Deoxyribonucleic Acid Immunization

Marc Antoine De La Vega, Jocelyne Piret, Bryan D. Griffin, Chantal Rhéaume, Marie Christine Venable, Julie Carbonneau, Christian Couture, Raquel Das Neves Almeida, Roland R. Tremblay, Kelly G. Magalhães, Young K. Park, Christine C. Roberts, Joel N. Maslow, Niranjan Y. Sardesai, J. Joseph Kim, Kar Muthumani, David B. Weiner, Gary P. Kobinger, Guy Boivin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Zika virus (ZIKV) infection has been associated with prolonged viral excretion in human semen and causes testicular atrophy and infertility in 10-week-old immunodeficient mice. Methods. Male IFNAR-/- mice, knockout for type I interferon receptor, were immunized with GLS-5700, a deoxyribonucleic acid-based vaccine, before a subcutaneous ZIKV challenge with 6 × 105 plaque-forming units at 13 weeks of age. On day 28 postinfection, testes and epididymides were collected in some mice for histological and functional analyses, whereas others were mated with naive female wild-type C57BL/6J. Results. Although all mice challenged with ZIKV developed viremia, most of them were asymptomatic, showed no weight loss, and survived infection. On day 28 postinfection, none of the unvaccinated, infected mice (9 of 9) exhibited abnormal spermatozoa counts or motility. However, 33% (3 of 9) and 36% (4 of 11) of mated males from this group were infertile, from 2 independent studies. Contrarily, males from the noninfected and the vaccinated, infected groups were all fertile. On days 75 and 207 postinfection, partial recovery of fertility was observed in 66% (2 of 3) of the previously infertile males. Conclusions. This study reports the effects of ZIKV infection on male fertility in a sublethal, immunodeficient mouse model and the efficacy of GLS-5700 vaccination in preventing male infertility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-374
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 9 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA vaccine
  • Zika virus
  • animal model
  • infertility
  • sublethal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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