Immunosuppression and sperm antibody formation in men with prostatitis
16 men with chronic prostatitis were evaluated immunologically in order to examine possible relationships between prostate infection, defective cellular immune responses and the occurrence of sperm antibodies. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMN) from 14 of 16 (88%) patients exhibited reduced or absent responses in vitro when incubated with an extract of Candida albicans. PBMN proliferation in response to the mitogen Concanavalin A (Con A) was reduced in 5 of 16 (31%) men. In addition, sera from 6 patients inhibited the Candida-induced proliferative response of control PBMC; 2 of these sera also reduced the Con A-directed response. Sperm antibodies, evaluated by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using fresh motile spermatozoa, were found in 9 of 16 (56%) patients. PBMC responses were reduced in all, and suppressive sera present in 5, of the men with sperm antibodies. IgG antibodies predominated. 4 of the sera positive by ELISA also agglutinated spermatozoa. Levels of IgG sperm antibodies were correlated with the degree of immunosuppression by patient sera (p less than 0.02). These data suggest that decreased cellular immunity and enhanced humoral reactivity to sperm are common in men with chronic prostatitis. Both may contribute to an increased rate of prostatic infection in these men.