Sperm Antigens Related to Infertility

  • Nancy J. Alexander
  • Mohamed Isahakia
Part of the Reproductive Biology book series (RBIO)


How antibodies to sperm interfere with fertility has been argued at many scientific meetings. No clear-cut answer is available from either epidemiological or experimental studies. We know that animals immunized with whole sperm or sperm extracts have high antibody levels and become infertile. When the antibody titers fall, fertility returns. Men and women with antisperm antibodies are less likely to be fertile than those lacking such antibodies. Further evidence comes from the finding that the levels of antibodies that develop in men after vasectomy can be used to predict fertility after vasovasostomy. When we measured sperm-agglutinating and sperm-immobilizing antibodies in a prospective study of 160 men, we found agglutinating antibodies in 63%, immobilizing antibodies in 37%, and antibodies in the seminal plasma in 3% (Fuchs and Alexander, 1983). In a postoperative evaluation most men had no significant change in agglutinating or immobilizing antibody levels. The incidence of men with antibodies in their seminal plasma rose after vasovasostomy to 16%. This rise most likely occurred because of the contribution of the epididymal segment to the seminal plasma. Pregnancy rates were inversely correlated with antibody levels. No man in our study caused a pregnancy if he had a titer of greater than 1:160. Sutherland and associates (1984) observed similar findings in men who underwent a vasectomy reversal and Rümke (1959) obtained similar results from men who were infertile and had antibodies but had not had a vasectomy.


Seminal Plasma Acrosome Reaction Sperm Capacitation Mammalian Sperm Sperm Surface 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy J. Alexander
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mohamed Isahakia
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Reproductive Biology and BehaviorOregon Regional Primate Research CenterBeavertonUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Primate ResearchNairobiKenya

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