By D. B. Crighton
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Extra resources for Immunological Aspects of Reproduction in Mammals
Currently promising fields of enquiry centre on the induction of active or passive immunity to either gamete antigens or reproductive h o r m o n e s . Judicious selection of target 48 Immunological aspects of reproduction—an overview antigens should m a k e it possible to suppress reproduction with minimal disturbance of other physiological processes. Active immunization with spermatozoal antigen results in infertility in a variety of experimental animals, and in man (see under A u t o i m m u n i t y ) .
1). In many cases, the effects are demonstrable only in vitro and their biological significance is dubious. Effects local to the placenta and its environs are perhaps m o r e likely than systemic ones and, of course, m o r e difficult to establish. Trophoblast is the source of most of the putative immunoregulatory substances, a m o n g them h C G and progesterone. h C G preparations inhibit lymphocyte proliferation and induce suppressor cell formation, although the effects may be due to contaminants in the preparations used, rather than h C G itself ( H a m m a r s t r ö m , Fuchs and Smith, 1979; Fuchs et al, 1982).
A l t h o u g h in the rete testis the efferent barrier is less effective, even downstream of the rete antibody concentrations are a minute fraction of those in blood (Weininger et al, 1982). A l t h o u g h antigen sequestration is the primary m o d e of protection against a u t o i m m u n e sensitization, the barrier may be supplemented by ancillary mechanisms. Local i m m u n e responses might limit egress of autoantigen, while any antigen that does escape might be eliminated either by natural antispermatozoal antibody (Hancock, 1978) or by non-antibody spermagglutinins (Boettcher, 1974).