Problem:  Acute and chronic infectious prostatitis (CIP) are the best understood of the prostate syndromes but the least frequent. In contrast, although chronic non-infectious prostatitis (CNIP) is the most frequent syndrome, its cause has proved elusive for decades.

Method of study:  In the present study we analyzed the presence of a possible autoimmune response to prostate antigens (PA) in patients with CIP and CNIP. We also analyzed their semen quality (spermiograms) and levels of seminal inflammatory cytokines.

Results:  We demonstrated the presence of lymphocytes able to proliferate in response to human PA (PSA and PAP) only in a group of patients with CNIP. When INFγ and IL-10 levels were measured in culture supernatants, significantly elevated levels of INFγ were detected only in patients with positive proliferative response to PA. Interestingly, only these patients showed significantly elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines (IL-1 and TNF-α) in seminal plasma and striking alterations in their semen quality.

Conclusions:  We found that INFγ-secreting lymphocytes specific to PA are detected in 34% of the patients with CNIP and that this fact is associated with a marked alteration of semen quality. These results argue in favor of the importance of prostate functionality for the quality of the semen.