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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2001 Sep;8(5):955-8.

Detection of Y chromosome DNA as evidence of semen in cervicovaginal secretions of sexually active women.

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INSERM U430, Hôpital Broussais, Paris, France.


The detection of traces of semen in cervicovaginal secretions (CVS) from sexually active women practicing unprotected sex is a prerequisite for the accurate study of cervicovaginal immunity. Two semen markers, the prostatic-specific antigen (PSA) and the Y chromosome, were detected in parallel in CVS obtained by a standardized vaginal washing of consecutive women attending the principal medical center for sexually transmitted diseases of Bangui, Central African Republic. PSA was detected by immunoenzymatic capture assay in the cell-free fraction of CVS, and the Y chromosome was detected by a single PCR assay of DNA extracted by silica from the cell fraction (Y PCR). Fifty (19%) cell-free fractions of the 264 beta-globin-positive CVS samples were positive for PSA, and 100 (38%) cell fractions of the CVS samples were positive for the Y chromosome. All the 50 (19%) PSA-containing CVS samples were also positive for the Y chromosome. Fifty (19%) CVS samples were positive only for the Y chromosome, with no detectable PSA. The remaining 164 (62%) CVS samples were both PSA and Y chromosome negative. These findings demonstrate that CVS from sexually active women may contain cell-associated semen residues unrecognized by conventional immunoenzymatic assays used to detect semen components. The detection of cell-associated male DNA with a highly sensitive and specific procedure such as Y PCR constitutes a method of choice to detect semen traces in female genital secretions.

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