Biology ETDs

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An immune response to spermatozoa may result in the production of autoantibodies to sperm. Most studies of antisperm antibody have depended on sperm agglutination or sperm immobilization which only detect antibodies reacting with cell surface antigen. In the study reported here indirect immunofluorescence was used to examine antisperm antibodies to all components of sperm in vasectomized males. These antibodies were used to study the nature of sperm­specific antigens, located in subcellular regions of the human spermatozoa. The incidence of antisperm antibodies in vasectomized patients rises from 61% before surgery to 90% nine months after surgery. The antibodies present before surgery were designated "natural" antibodies to sperm. These antibodies increased in titer and incidence after surgery. Three antibodies were considered "immune" antibodies, as they developed after vasectomy. These were speckled anti-acrosome, antisperm nucleus and anti-tail antibodies. The immunoglobulin classes of the natural antibodies were IgG and IgM, while the immune antibodies were predominantly IgG. The sperm antigens were divided into two groups according to their accessibility to reaction with antibody. The first group was detected on smears of methanol fixed sperm and were classified as accessible antigens. These reacted with anti-acrosomal (diffuse and speckled), anti­equatorial, anti-postacrosomal, and anti-tail antibodies. The second group was inaccessible unless the sperm were treated with the reducing agent dithiothreitol and trypsin before smears were made. The accessible antigens were removed by this treatment. These two addition 1 antigens detected in treated sperm were found in the perm nucleus and in the midpiece of the tail. Cross-reaction of antisperm antibodies with other tissues, determined that they were directed to perm-specific antigens. Cross-reaction of antisperm nucleus antibody with basic nuclear proteins gave positive evidence for the identification of the antigen detected by this antibody. Autoantibodies which were organelle specific were used to detect sperm antigens which were not sperm- specific. These antigens included DNA and DNP in the nucleus, mitochondrial structures, and actin-like molecules in the tail. Speculations were made as to the significance of these antibodies in vasectomized patients, the origin of "natural" antisperm antibody, and the identity of the antigens detected by antisperm antibodies.



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Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

John A. Ulrich

Second Committee Member

Kenneth Sik Kwong Tung

Third Committee Member

Leroy C. McLaren

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