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Sperm cryopreservation during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic

  • Paoli, D.1
  • Pallotti, F.1
  • Nigro, G.1
  • Aureli, A.1
  • Perlorca, A.1
  • Mazzuti, L.1
  • Di Carlo, D.1
  • Turriziani, O.1
  • Lenzi, A.1
  • Lombardo, F.1
  • 1 “Sapienza” University of Rome,
Published Article
Journal of Endocrinological Investigation
Publication Date
Oct 10, 2020
DOI: 10.1007/s40618-020-01438-8
PMID: 33040303
PMCID: PMC7547554
PubMed Central


Purpose Sperm cryopreservation is fundamental in the management of patients undergoing gonadotoxic treatments. Concerns have risen in relation to SARS-CoV-2 and its potential for testicular involvement, since SARS-CoV-2-positive cryopreserved samples may have unknown effects on fertilization and embryo safety. This study therefore aimed to analyze the safety of sperm cryopreservation for cancer patients after the onset of the pandemic in Italy, through assessment of the risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposure and viral RNA testing of semen samples. Methods We recruited 10 cancer patients (mean age 30.5 ± 9.6 years) referred to our Sperm Bank during the Italian lockdown (from March 11th to May 4th 2020) who had not undergone a nasopharyngeal swab for SARS-CoV-2 testing. Patients were administered a questionnaire on their exposure to COVID-19, and semen samples were taken. Before cryopreservation, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was extracted from a 150 µl aliquot of seminal fluid in toto using QIAamp viral RNA kit (Qiagen) and amplified by a real time RT PCR system (RealStar SARS-CoV2 RT PCR, Altona Diagnostics) targeting the E and S genes. Results The questionnaire and medical interview revealed that all patients were asymptomatic and had had no previous contact with COVID-19 infected patients. All semen samples were negative for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Conclusion This preliminary assessment suggests that a thorough evaluation (especially in the setting of a multidisciplinary team) and molecular confirmation of the absence of SARS-CoV-2 in seminal fluid from asymptomatic cancer patients may assist in ensuring the safety of sperm cryopreservation.

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