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Keywords:

  • Ejaculate fractions;
  • fertility;
  • immune modulation;
  • proteomics;
  • seminal plasma;
  • sperm function

Citation Rodríguez-Martínez H, Kvist U, Ernerudh J, Sanz L, Calvete JJ. Seminal Plasma Proteins: What Role Do They Play? Am J Reprod Immunol 2011; 66 (Suppl. 1): 11–22

Problem  Semen is a heterogenous and complex cell suspension in a protein-rich fluid with different functions, some of them well known, others still obscure.

Method of study  This paper reviews, comparatively, our current knowledge on the growing field of proteomics of the SP and its relevance in relation to the in vivo situation, for the sake of reproductive biology, diagnostics and treatment.

Results  Ejaculated spermatozoa, primarily bathing in cauda epididymal fluid, are (in vitro) bulky, exposed to most, if not all, secretions from the accessory sexual glands. In vivo, however, not all spermatozoa are necessarily exposed to all secretions from these glands, because sperm cohorts are delivered in differential order and bathe in seminal plasma (SP) with different concentrations of constituents, including peptides and proteins. Proteins are relevant for sperm function and relate to sperm interactions with the various environments along the female genital tract towards the oocyte vestments. Specific peptides and proteins act as signals for the female immune system to modulate sperm rejection or tolerance, perhaps even influencing the relative intrinsic fertility of the male and/or couple by attaining a status of maternal tolerance towards embryo and placental development.

Conclusions  Proteins of the seminal plasma have an ample panorama of action, and some appear responsible for establishing fertility.