Human seminal plasma (SP) was found to contain a potent suppressor of human natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxic activity against the K562 erythroleukemia target in vitro. Pooled and filter-sterilized SP reduced the NK cell activity of normal blood donors in a concentration-dependent manner; strong reduction of target cell lysis was observed at a final dilution of 1/400. Possible toxic effects of SP on NK cells were ruled out, because donor leukocytes incubated in a final SP dilution of 1/100 remained greater than 99 percent viable as determined by trypan blue exclusion. SP did not affect the lysability of the tumor targets, but suppressed the cytotoxic activity of the effector leukocytes, an effect that was reversed after washing the leukocytes free of the SP. The suppressive action of SP was retained after heating to 95 degrees C for 10 min, but was removed after adsorption with activated charcoal (Norit-A). Lipids extracted from SP were tested for suppression of NK cell cytotoxic activity, and the active principle was identified with the acidic lipid fraction. Components of the acidic lipid fraction of a single freshly obtained SP sample were separated by high pressure liquid chromatography, and suppression of NK cell cytotoxic activity was found to be associated with the predominant prostaglandins (PG) in this fraction, 19-OH-PGE1 and 19-OH-PGE2. Suppression of cellular immune functions by SP has been described; however, the identity of the suppressor factor (or factors) is unknown. The 19-OH-PGE are present in high concentration in primate semen, and may minimize immunologic sensitization to sperm in females after insemination. In addition, these compounds may suppress NK cell antitumor and antiviral activities in the vagina, as well as in their tissues of origin.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.