Aim:  To determine if IgA is required for protection against Chlamydia infection in the male reproductive tract (MRT).

Materials and Methods:  Male polyimmunoglobulin receptor knockout mice (PIgR-/-) and wild-type C57BL/6 (WT) mice were immunised intranasally with chlamydial major outer membrane protein (MOMP) and cholera toxin (CT). MOMP-specific IgG and IgA in serum and prostatic fluids were measured by ELISA. Serum and PF were also assayed for inhibition of in vitro chlamydial infection. Immunized WT and PIgR-/- mice were challenged by direct inoculation of C. muridarum into the meatus urethra. Four weeks post challenge Chlamydia levels in the penile urethra, epididymis and testis were determined by PCR.

Results:  Equivalent levels of IgG were found in the serum of both WT and PIgR-/- mice however IgA in serum of PIgR-/- mice was 19- to 20-fold higher than in WT animals consistent with the lack of the PIgR IgA transport molecule. IgA levels were significantly lower in PIgR-/- PF compared to WT PF after both immunization and infection. Only PF from WT but not PIgR-/- animals was able to inhibit in vitro chlamydial infection. Following challenge significantly higher levels of Chlamydia were recovered from the MRT of PIgR-/- mice compared to WT animals.

Conclusions:  Male mice lacking a functional PIgR were unable to clear a genital tract Chlamydia infection despite high levels of serum IgA. These data show that mucosal IgA plays a major role in preventing chlamydial infection of the male genital tract and suggest that immunization strategies to protect males should target a strong mucosal IgA response.