Antisperm Immunity and Infertility

Jin-Chun Lu; Yu-Feng Huang; Nian-Qing Lu


Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2008;4(1):113-126. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Immunoinfertility is one of several causes of infertility in humans. Although progress on antisperm immunity and infertility has advanced during the past three decades, the nature of a real antisperm antibody (ASA) is still poorly understood. Dozens of sperm antigens have been isolated and characterized in association with infertility. However, it is difficult to identify a single predominant target antigen that could interact with all the ASAs. There are some protective mechanisms preventing ASA production in males and females. As chronic infection, vasectomy and vasovasostomy, heavy metals, and testicular cancer and torsion may induce the production of ASAs, they may be responsible for decreased motility and sperm penetration of cervical mucus, and the blockage of the acrosome reaction and the sperm-egg interaction. Many ASA assay methods have been developed, each with advantages and disadvantages. Efforts for the treatment of ASA-mediated infertility have been attempted. However, current therapy for ASA-associated infertility is almost empiric and largely unproven.

On average, infertility occurs in one in every five couples of reproductive age.[1] Among whom, there is 10-20% of unexplained infertility. A subset of infertile patients has been found to possess antisperm antibodies (ASAs) in semen, blood, cervical mucus or follicular fluid. Clinically, these patients are classified as being immunologically infertile.

It is widely accepted that immunoinfertility is one of the major causes of infertility in humans.[2] Investigations on the potential role of ASAs in infertile couples have been performed extensively during the past three decades. However, questions about the underlying mechanisms of ASA in reproduction, testing methods, the relationship between ASAs and infertility, and the treatment of ASA-mediated human infertility still remain. Moreover, standardized assays and valid treatment methods for ASA-mediated infertility are so far lacking.[3] In fact, research on ASA-related infertility is limited.


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