Fazeli said that another aspect of this work relates to understanding the mechanisms involved in determination of self and non-self by the immune system. Since sperm are a foreign entity in the female reproductive tract, the immune system should attack and destroy them. In reality, however, sperm are protected and stored.
The traditional explanation is that sperm somehow evade the immune response. Fazeli says his data shows that this is not true. He found that the female immune system instead recognizes sperm as a friend, not a foe. Fazeli suggests that the female reproductive tract is equipped with sensory systems that recognize sperm and alert the ancient, non-specific innate immune system to dampen its reaction towards them.
The main message from this work is that the female reproductive tract has a lot more control than previously thought, says Fazeli. This discovery profoundly influences our understanding of the physiology of events leading to conception and the bearing of offspring.
|Contact: Michael Bernstein|
American Chemical Society