Temporal recognition of sperm autoantigens by IgM and IgG autoantibodies after vasectomy and vasovasostomy

Charles J. Flickinger, Stuart S. Howards, Leigh Ann Bush, Linda A. Baker, John C. Herr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Temporal patterns of IgM and IgG autoantibodies to sperm proteins were studied by western blot analysis at intervals after bilateral vasectomy, vasectomy followed one month later by vasovasostomy, or sham operations. Responses were detected to eight major autoantigens at 21-23, 36, 41, 51, 57, 63, 68-71 and 75-83 kDa, by study of staining patterns of sequential serum samples from individual animals and by analysis of the incidence of reaction to each protein. The four lower molecular weight antigens (21-23, 36, 41 and 51 kDa) provoked mainly IgG responses. The strongly stained set of higher molecular weight antigens (57, 63, 68-71 and 75-83 kDa) tended to show more clearly defined temporal patterns of IgM followed by IgG response, including a high incidence of IgM antibody at the 2-week interval. Three of the larger peptides (57, 63 and 68-71 kDa) appeared highly immunogenic, since some reactions were detected even in sham-operated rats. The classical patterns of IgM and IgG antibody responses to the majority of the dominant sperm autoantigens are in accord with the hypothesis that vasectomy mimics immunization with spermatozoa. The high incidence of IgM antibodies in the earliest sample, taken 2 weeks after vasectomy, suggests that the initial immunizing event takes place within about a week after the operation. Vasovasostomy did not bring about a decrease in antisperm antibodies. Instead, some animals demonstrated an increased reaction to certain antigens after reversal of vasectomy, even though the vasovasostomies were anatomically successful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-150
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of reproductive immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1994


  • Antisperm antibodies
  • Autoantibodies
  • Sperm autoantigen
  • Vasectomy
  • Vasovasostomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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