PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Immunology - Physiology - Urology - Women's Health

Sperm Cells Induce Distinct Cytokine Response in Peripheral Mononuclear Cells from Infertile Women with Serum Anti-Sperm Antibodies
Published: Friday, August 31, 2012
Author: Miloslav Kverka et al.

by Miloslav Kverka, Zdenka Ulcova-Gallova, Jirina Bartova, Jan Cibulka, Katarina Bibkova, Zdenka Micanova, Helena Tlaskalova-Hogenova

Background and Aims

Anti-sperm antibodies in can markedly reduce the likelihood of natural conception. The etiology of this anti-sperm immunity in human females is unknown. We compared the cytokine response of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from infertile patients with or without anti-sperm antibodies (ASA) and fertile women.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We cultivated the PBMCs together with sperm antigens (whole cells or cell lysate), and screened the supernatants for 40 cytokines by antibody array. When stimulated with whole sperm cells, the PBMCs from patients with ASA produce less IL-3, IL-11, IL-13, ICAM-1, GCSF and more IL-2, IL-4 and IL-12p70 as compared to healthy women. PBMCs from patients with ASA produce typically less IL-13, IL-7, IL-17 and MIG, and more MIP-1ß and IL-8, as compared to PBMCs from patients without ASA. In response to sperm cell lysate, PBMCs from infertile women without ASA respond initially by increase in production of growth factors (GCSF, GM-CSF and PDGF-BB) followed by increase in chemokines (e.g. IL-8, MCP-1 and MIP-1ß).


Cellular immune responses to sperm antigens, measured by production of cytokines, differ among infertile women with ASA, infertile women without ASA and healthy women. This difference could play an important role in the initial steps of the infertility pathogenesis.