Experimentally induced orchitis associated with Arcanobacterium pyogenes: clinical, ultrasonographic, seminological and pathological features.
The objectives of this study were to describe the features of experimentally induced orchitis associated with Arcanobacterium pyogenes and confirm the pathogenicity of the organism for the ovine testicle. One testicle of each of nine rams was inoculated with 1.3×104 colony-forming-units of an A. pyogenes isolate and regular clinical, ultrasonographic, bacteriological and seminological examinations were carried out up to 204 days after challenge. The rams were sequentially euthanatised 3, 6, 9, 18, 30, 50, 71, 113 and 204 days after challenge and a gross- and histopathological examination of their testicles was performed. All rams developed clinical orchitis and general signs. The initial ultrasonographic findings were changes of size and echogenicity of the genitalia, whilst in the long-standing phase they were wider appearance of the mediastinum testis, presence of hyperechogenic foci, changes of echogenicity of the genitalia and increased echogenicity of the scrotum and tunics. The following changes in semen evaluation parametres were recorded: the pH, the percentage of dead sperms, the percentage of abnormal sperms and the number of nonsperm round cells increased, whilst the mass motility, the individual motility and the sperm concentration decreased; the following sperm defects were observed: misshapen or piriform heads, sperms with coiled tails, sperms without tail and sperms with proximal cytoplasmic droplet; at the early stages neutrophils were the prevailing nonsperm round cell type, later the proportion of immature germ cells increased and in the long-standing phase there were enlogated spermatids and leucocytes; it is noteworthy that semen evaluation parametres were restored to normal at the late stages of the disease. A. pyogenes was consistently isolated from the semen samples after challenge, as well as from the dissected genitalia. The salient post-mortem findings were: initially, subcutaneous oedema, fluid into the vaginal cavity, congested and distended vessels, increased size of the genitalia and a hard dark area inside the testicles; subsequently, there were changes of size of the genitalia, thickening of scrotum and tunics and presence of fibrin on the testicular surface; in the long-standing phase of the disorder, there were induration of scrotum and tunics with adhesion between the tunics and discolouration of the surface of the genitalia. The prominent histopathological changes were observed in the inoculated testicles; milder changes were seen in the respective epididymides; interstitial oedema, diffuse neutrophilic infiltration and extravazation were observed in the early stages after challenge; lymphocytic infiltration with concurrent fibrosis, mineralization and inspissation of the tubular elements of the seminiferous tubules and presence of vacuolated Sertoli cells were seen later; finally, regeneration of the epithelium and presence of Sertoli cells and spermatogonia with various degrees of spermatogenic activity were evident. These findings, allied to the isolation of A. pyogenes from field cases of ovine orchitis, provide clear evidence that A. pyogenes is pathogenic for the ovine genitalia; however, the mechanisms of transition of the organism from commensal to pathogenic state are not clear. It is also noteworthy that some degree of fertility was restored in the late stages of the disorder. Ultrasonography appeared to be useful for the diagnosis of intra-scrotal abnormalities, especially during investigation of the long-standing stage disease, after clinical findings have subsided.