Autoantibodies and common idiotypes in men and women with sperm antibodies

Albert El-Roeiy, Guido Valesini, Jan Friberg, Yehuda Shoenfeld, Ronnald C. Kennedy, Angela Tincani, Genesio Balestrieri, Norbert Gleicher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Antisperm antibodies have been implicated as a causative factor of infertility and pregnancy wastage. Since concomitant autoimmune phenomena were reported in men with antisperm antibodies, we investigated known antisperm antibody-positive sera from 25 women, 27 men, and the respective seminal plasma samples. The investigated autoimmune panel included a search for antinuclear antibodies, autoantibodies (in IgG, IgM and IgA isotypes) to seven phospholipids (cardiolipin, phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylinositol, and phosphatidic acid), to four histone subfractions (H1, H2A, H3, H4), and to four polynucleotides [ssDNA, dsDNA, poly(I), and poly(dT)], total immunoglobulin levels, and sperm antibody titers. The sera were also evaluated for the presence of a common anti-deoxyribonucleic acid antibody, and anticardiolipin antibody idiotypes. Levels of sperm antibody titers were significantly lower in women than in men. Both men and women with antisperm antibodies demonstrated elevated total IgG levels compared with those of normal control subjects. Only women showed elevated levels of total IgM. Sera from 24% of women and 11% of men with antisperm antibodies demonstrated antinuclear antibody titers >1:40. The most striking autoantibody abnormalities were found among antiphospholipid antibodies. Sera from women with antisperm antibodies demonstrated higher autoantibody production than was found in their male counterparts. A significant correlation was found between antisperm antibodies and IgM anticardiolipin and IgA anti-phosphatidylinositol in women and between sperm antibodies and IgA phosphatidylserine antibodies in men. The presence of anticardiolipin and anti-deoxyribonucleic acid antibody idiotypes was significantly more frequent in women than in men. By means of discriminant analysis and variables selected by this mathematical model, the identification of 24 of 25 women and 26 of 27 men with antisperm antibodies was correctly predicted. These results suggest that women and men respond differently to sperm antigens. The apparent cross-reactivity between sperm antibodies and other autoantibodies, usually associated with autoimmune disease, suggests that a polyclonal B cell activation, similar to that seen in autoimmune diseases, occurs in patients with sperm antibodies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-603
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number3 PART 1
StatePublished - Mar 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • Spermantibodies
  • autoantibodies
  • cross-reactivity
  • idiotypes


Dive into the research topics of 'Autoantibodies and common idiotypes in men and women with sperm antibodies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this