Effects of Antibodies to Transferrin and Alpha 2-HS Glycoprotein on In Vitro Sperm Motion: Implications in Infertility Associated with Endometriosis


Andrology and Reproductive Immunology Laboratories, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical University of South Carolina, 171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425.


PROBLEM: Women with endometriosis have antibodies to endometrial transferrin and alpha 2-HS glycoprotein in their serum and peritoneal fluid. The objective of this study was to determine whether antibodies to transferrin and alpha 2-HS glycoprotein adversely affect sperm motility and survival.

METHOD OF STUDY: Spermatozoa obtained from normal fertile donors and washed free of seminal plasma were incubated with the medium (control), 1:2 and 1:100 dilutions of antitransferrin, 1:4, 1:8 and 1:100 dilutions of anti-alpha 2-HS glycoprotein, and a 1:2 dilution of antialbumin antiserum (negative control). Sperm motion characteristics in 10 μl aliquots were evaluated at 30 min, 1 hr, 2 hr, 4 hr, and 24 hr using computerized sperm motion analysis. A paired t-test was done to analyze the effects of the various antibodies on sperm motion characteristics.

RESULTS: Antibodies to albumin failed to adversely affect sperm motility in general or the several sperm motion characteristics in particular. In contrast, antibodies to transferrin at the dilution of 1:2 adversely affected the percentage of motile and rapid spermatozoa, progressive and path velocities, straightness, linearity, track speed, and anterior-lateral head displacement (P < 0.001) at all the time intervals, whereas a 1:100 dilution of this antiserum adversely affected these parameters only at 24 hr. Elongation and beat cross-frequency were significantly affected at 4 and 24 hr by a 1:2 dilution of antitransferrin antiserum. The effects of anti-alpha 2-HS glycoprotein were more pronounced than those of antitransferrin, but they were similar. Dilutions of 1:4 and 1:8 were effective at all time intervals, whereas a 1:100 dilution was effective in reducing the track speed and the percentage of rapid cells at 24 hr (P < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Antibodies to endometrial transferrin and alpha 2-HS glycoprotein present in the peritoneal fluid, and possibly in the oviductal fluid, of patients with endometriosis may adversely affect postcoital sperm motility and sperm survival.