Pathological findings in genital organs of bulls naturally infected with Besnoitia besnoiti

Llorenç Grau Roma, Jorge Martínez, Adriana Esteban-Gil, Javier López, Alberto Jesus Marco Valle, Natalia Majo Masferrer, Juan Antonio Castillo, Mariano Domingo Alvarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Bulls chronically affected by bovine besnoitiosis can suffer from sterility. There is limited information about the distribution of Besnoitia cysts and their associated lesions within the male genital organs. This work describes the gross and histological abnormalities in the genital organs of 6 bulls chronically infected with Besnoitia besnoiti, including both clinically (n = 4) and subclinically (n = 2) affected cases. Parasitic cysts were observed in the genital organs of all the clinically affected bulls. The tissue cysts were most commonly found within the pampiniform plexus (4/4), where they were often seen within venous vascular walls and associated with vasculitis, followed by epididymis (3/4), tunica albuginea (2/4), and penis (1/4). In decreasing order of their frequency, observed abnormalities included seminiferous tubule degeneration, testicular fibrosis, testicular necrosis, lack of/or diminished numbers of spermatozoa, testicular atrophy, and Leydig cell hyperplasia. Only one of the subclinically infected bulls had few Besnoitia cysts within the pampinoform plexus, which was associated to small areas of necrosis and mineralization in the ipsilateral testicle. Results indicate that Besnoitia cysts and genital abnormalities are frequent in bulls chronically affected by bovine besnoitiosis, while they are mild and scarce in subclinically affected ones. Moreover, present data show that Besnotia-associated testicular lesions can occur without the presence of cysts within the testicular parenchyma. B. besnoiti cysts seem to have a tropism for the vascular structures of the spermatic chord, which may cause testicular abnormalities via vascular damage, reduced blood flow, and/or impaired thermoregulation and subsequently lead to the observed testicular lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119
Pages (from-to)2257-2262
Number of pages6
JournalParasitology Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Besnoitia besnoiti
  • Bovine besnoitiosis
  • Leydig cell hyperplasia
  • Testicular atrophy
  • Testicular necrosis


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