Failure of sperm-induced immunosuppression: Association with antisperm antibodies in women

  • Steven S. Witkin
    Reprint requests: Steven S. Witkin, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cornell University Medical College, 515 East 71 st St., New York, NY 10021.
    Immunology Division, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York
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      The ability of husbands' sperm to inhibit proliferation of their wives' lymphocytes was measured. Seventeen of 27 sperm samples tested (63%) inhibited lymphocytes from responding to Candida antigens. Eleven of the 27 women (41%) had sera that were positive for antisperm antibodies; sperm from only four of their husbands (36%) were immunosuppressive. In contrast, 13 of the 16 women (81%) without antisperm antibodies had partners with suppressive sperm. Lymphocytes from four women with antisperm antibodies were inhibited by sperm from a fertile donor although not inhibited by their husband's sperm, whereas in three other antibody-positive women neither the husbands' nor donors' sperm were inhibitory. Antisperm antibodies in some women may arise as a consequence of a failure of sperm from their male partners to inhibit lymphocyte activation. (Am J Obstet Gynecol 1989;160:1166-8.)

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