• Human spermatozoa;
  • MHC genes and products;
  • ELISA;
  • mixed lymphocyte culture;
  • homologous RNA;
  • γinterferon

ABSTRACT: The expression of human leukocyte antigens (HLA) on highly purified human ejaculated sperm cells was studied using the sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technique and a wide panel of monoclonal antibodies to class I and class II HLA. In addition, the stimulatory capacity of these cells was tested in mixed cultures of lymphocytes and spermatozoa, and the levels of RNA homologous to the HLA class I and class II genes were determined. The results obtained using the ELISA indicate that the class I and class II HLA serologically defined antigens are weakly expressed on the cell surface of the mature spermatozoa. Highly purified sperm cells consistently stimulated heterologous lymphocytes but not when HLA-DR compatibility was observed between stimulator and responder. The proliferative response of lymphocytes induced by sperm cells was lower than the response obtained in a lymphocyte-lymphocyte combination, though the kinetics of the response were similar in both cases. In addition, it was found that spermatozoa contained RNA species homologous to HLA class II DRβ and DQβ genes sequences but not to HLA class I sequences. The levels of these RNA species were significantly reduced after interferon stimulation. Lymphocytes that served as positive control were found to contain RNA complementary to both HLA class I and class II genes.