1 Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Department of Clinical Research, Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU2 Institut for Biomedicin3 Institut for Medicin og Sundhedsteknologi4 Molekylærbiologisk Institut5 Institut for Biomedicin - Medicinsk Mikrobiologi og Immunologi6 Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Department of Clinical Research, Det Sundhedsvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU
An analysis of all known human herpesviruses has not previously been reported on sperm from normal donors. Using an array-based detection method, we determined the cross-sectional frequency of human herpesviruses in semen from 198 Danish sperm donors. Fifty-five of the donors had at least one ejaculate that was positive for one or more human herpesvirus. Of these 27.3% (n = 15) had a double herpesvirus infection. If corrected for the presence of multiple ejaculates from some donors, the adjusted frequency of herpesviruses in semen was 27.2% with HSV-1 in 0.4%; HSV-2 in 0.1%; EBV in 6.3%; HCMV in 2.7%; HHV-6A/B in 13.5%; HHV-7 in 4.2%, whereas none of the samples had detectable VZV or HHV-8. Subsequently, we examined longitudinally data on ejaculates from 11 herpesvirus-positive donors. Serial analyses revealed that a donor who tested positive for herpesvirus at one time point did not necessarily remain positive over time. For the most frequently found herpesvirus, HHV-6A/B, we examined its association with sperm. For HHV-6A/B PCR-positive semen samples, HHV-6A/B could be detected on the sperm by flow cytometry. Conversely, PCR-negative semen samples were negative by flow cytometry. HHV-6B was shown to associate with sperm within minutes in a concentration dependent manner. Confocal microscopy demonstrated that HHV-6B associated with the sperm head, but only to sperm with an intact acrosome. Taken together, our data suggest that HHV-6A/B could be transported to the uterus via binding to the sperm acrosome. Moreover, we find a 10 times higher frequency of HHV-7 in semen from healthy individuals than previously detected. Further research is required to determine the potential risk of using herpesvirus-positive donor semen. Longitudinally analyses of ejaculate series indicate that implementation of quarantine for a donor shown to shed a herpesvirus is not a tenable solution.