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This chapter summarizes normal immune function and its relationship to immunologic infertility. The normal immune system identifies and destroys antigen within the body. The humoral immune system is suited to the destruction of whole, extracellular antigens, including most bacteria, larger parasites, and viruses. Antispermatogenic autoantigens induce autoimmunity to the germinal epithelium, resulting in a specific decline in sperm production due to germ cell destruction. Tail-directed sperm antibodies are more likely to impair motility and cause agglutination, sperm head-directed antibodies may preferentially affect zona binding and fertilization, as suggested by immobilization and penetration assays. Corticosteroids prevent the chemotaxis of inflammatory cells, impede cytokine release, decrease antibody production, and even weaken antigen-antibody association. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is suited for treatment of infertility when there is evidence of cervical mucus problem, whether it is due to antibodies or not, as demonstrated by the inability of sperm to penetrate the cervical mucus.
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