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Keywords:

  • complement;
  • infections;
  • mucosal immunity;
  • reproductive immunology

Summary

Mannose-binding lectin (MBL) is an innate immune molecule present in blood and some mucosal tissues, which can influence microbial attachment and inflammatory responses of host cells during infection. In this study MBL was found to be present at a low concentration in semen samples in the range 1·2–24·9 ng/ml. Co-incubation of bacteria with semen resulted in the binding of MBL to the bacterial surface. Neisseria gonorrhoeae is a common cause of genitourinary infection. MBL bound to N. gonorrhoeae with strain-to-strain variation in the intensity of binding and nature of the bacterial receptor. Pretreatment with MBL concentrations similar to those found in human serum modulated the adhesion of N. gonorrhoeae strain FA1090 but not strain MS11 to epithelial cells. This effect was dose-dependent. This work demonstrates that MBL is present in human semen and modifies cellular responses to N. gonorrhoeae in a concentration-dependent manner.