Why Do Diseases Hide In The Testicles?

Zika Virus Hide In Testicles

The testicles are miraculous organs, capable of creating the seeds of life as well as producing the hormones that grow muscles, make facial hair and more. But these very abilities also make them irresistible places for diseases to hide. Let’s take a deep science dive into the balls to learn more about what makes them that way.

Testicles are what’s known as an “immune-privileged” site of the body, meaning that the natural defense systems don’t work there. That’s for a good reason - to keep the sperm created in the testicles from being killed and reabsorbed. It’s sort of a quarantine area where the normal rules don’t apply.

Unfortunately for medical science, that immune privilege doesn’t extend just to sperm. All sorts of other things can lurk undetected in the testicles and cause trouble, and because the testicles don’t respond to those antigens properly it gives them room to grow. Some of the diseases that are notable for incubating in your man parts include Zika, Ebola and even HIV - not stuff you want to go undtected.

Scientists are still trying to learn how viruses evolve to take advantage of immune privilege and how they relocate themselves to different parts of the body, but a study of donated testicular tissue, primarily from transgender women, is helping make great strides. Every step we can take to prevent the spread of these diseases is a worthwhile one.

Read more at Scientific American.