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Autoimmunity to spermatozoa, asymptomatic Chlamydia trachomatis genital tract infection in gamma-delta T lymphocytes in seminal fluid from the male partners of couples with unexplained infertility



Autoimmunity to spermatozoa, asymptomatic Chlamydia trachomatis genital tract infection in gamma-delta T lymphocytes in seminal fluid from the male partners of couples with unexplained infertility



Human Reproduction (Oxford) 10(5): 1070-1074



The relationship between an undetected, asymptomatic Chlamydia trachomatis genital tract infection, the concentration of gamma-delta and alpha-beta T cells in semen and sperm autoimmunity was examined in 48 male partners of couples with unexplained infertility. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies to C. trachomatis were detected in seminal fluids from 14 (29.2%) of the men. Only four of these were positive for circulating anti-chlamydial IgA, suggesting that the stimulus for antibody production was within the genital tract. In contrast, four men were positive for anti-chlamydial IgG in their semen; all were also seropositive for anti-chlamydial IgG. T lymphocytes bearing the alpha-beta and gamma-delta antigen receptors were present in every semen sample. Men with seminal anti-chlamydial IgA, however, had significantly (P = 0.035) elevated semen gamma-delta T cell concentrations (median 3100 cells/ml) than did men lacking this antibody (median 1400 cells/ml); concentrations of alpha-beta T cells were comparable in both groups. Genital tract sperm autoimmunity, as shown by antibodies bound to motile ejaculated spermatozoa, was detected in 13 (27.1 %) men. The presence of these antibodies was associated with elevated concentrations of both gamma-delta (median 4200 versus 700 cells/ml) and alpha-delta (median 5000 versus 850 cells/ml) T cells (P = 0.0002 and 0.0001 respectively). Men with antisperm antibodies only in their serum had seminal T cell concentrations comparable with men testing negative for antisperm antibodies. Anti-chlamydiaI IgA was identified in semen from four of 10 men with IgA bound to their spermatozoa and in none of the men with only spermatozoa-bound IgG. There was no relationship between sperm quality and the occurrence of seminal IgA antibodies to either C. trachomatis or spermatozoa. An asymptomatic C. trachomatis infection activates gamma-delta T cells within the male genital tract, which may lead to antisperm antibody formation and immune-mediated infertility.

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Accession: 008204857

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PMID: 7657743


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