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J Immunol. 2005 Sep 15;175(6):4127-36.

Human male genital tract secretions: both mucosal and systemic immune compartments contribute to the humoral immunity.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.


In contrast to numerous studies of female genital tract secretions, the molecular properties of Abs and the magnitude of humoral responses in human male genital tract secretions to naturally occurring Ags and to mucosal and systemic immunizations have not been extensively investigated. Therefore, seminal plasma (SP) collected from healthy individuals was analyzed with respect to Ig levels, their isotypes, molecular forms of IgA, and for the presence of Abs to naturally occurring Ags, or induced by systemic or mucosal immunizations with viral and bacterial vaccines. The results indicated that in SP, IgG and not IgA, is the dominant Ig isotype, and that IgM is present at low levels. IgA is represented by secretory IgA, polymeric IgA, and monomeric IgA. In contrast to the female genital tract secretions in which IgA2 occurs in slight excess, the distribution of IgA subclasses in SP resembles that in plasma with a pronounced preponderance of IgA1. The IgG subclass profiles in SP are also similar to those in serum. Thus, SP is an external secretion that shares common features with both typical external secretions and plasma. Specifically, SP contains naturally occurring secretory IgA Abs to environmental Ags of microbial origin and to an orally administered bacterial vaccine, and plasma-derived IgG Abs to systemically injected vaccines. Therefore, both mucosal and systemic immunization with various types of Ags can induce humoral responses in SP. These findings should be considered in immunization strategies to induce humoral responses against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV-1.

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