PROBLEM: Antisperm antibodies induced in prepubertal boys with testicular failures were characterized by using four techniques of antibody detection. The reactivity of circulating antisperm antibodies in prepubertal boys and the reactivity of antibodies in sera samples of adult fertile and infertile males were compared against the same sperm antigenic pools (live or fixed spermatozoa, or sperm antigenic extracts).
METHOD OF STUDY: The incidence of antisperm antibodies in sera samples of 69 prepubertal boys with testicular failures and 21 samples obtained from adult, male individuals was assessed by indirect immunobead binding test (IDIBT), flow cytometry measurement, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and Western blotting. Immunoblot analysis was performed by using sperm extracts of glycosylated and deglycosylated solubilized membrane antigens.
RESULTS: Sera samples were studied in a group composed of healthy prepubertal boys (n = 7) and prepubertal boys with testicular failures (n = 69). Applied tests of antibody detection revealed striking differences in a group of boys with testicular pathology. With IDIBT, 7% of the sera samples were found positive, whereas with flow cytometry measurement, 48% of the sera samples were positive. Immunosorbent assay (fixed sperm) indicated 32% positive cases in the same group. The sera samples were found to be positive in 65% of immunoblotting reactions with glycosylated antigens and in 70% of immunoblotting reactions with deglycosylated antigens. All applied detection assays were clearly negative on sera samples from fertile, adult males. Western immunoblotting indicated an immunodominant antigenic determinant of 58 kDa.
CONCLUSIONS: Tests of antibody detection with the use of live sperm (IDIBT and flow cytometry measurements) presented low sensitivity (8% and 48%, respectively) in a group of prepubertal boys. This observation underlines the difficulties in assigning the prospective prognosis of future fertility status in prepubertal boys with antisperm antibodies.