Analysis of human sperm membrane antigens reacting with sera from antisperm antibody positive and negative patients by Western blotting
Immunological infertility is thought to be caused by the binding of antibodies to 'fertility-related' antigen(s) on the sperm membrane. We compared antibody profiles in sera from 20 ASA(+) and ASA(-) men, using a sperm membrane extract as an antigen. Antigens were separated by SDS-PAGE under reducing conditions. The patients were classed as ASA(+) by the MAR (>50%), d-IBT (>20%) and TAT (>1:64). The results showed that immunoreactive bands in both the ASA(+) and ASA(-) groups were heterogenous and included bands covering the whole molecular weight range. Statistical analysis showed significantly more patients in the ASA(+) group having immunoreactive bands at molecular weights of 32 Kd (P = 0.006) and 79 Kd (P = 0.02) when compared to the ASA(-) group. In the ASA(-) group significantly more patients had reactive bands at 81 Kd (P = 0.01) when compared to the ASA(+) group. The 32 Kd antigen reacted only with sera from ASA(+) patients. We conclude that differences exist between the ASA(+) and ASA(-) groups when this extraction method is used and that the isolation and purification of the 32 Kd protein may justify further investigation.