What are Antibodies

Antibodies, also called immunoglobulins are large y-shaped proteins which function to identify and help remove foreign antigens such as viruses and bacteria.

In mammals there are five main types of antibodies including: IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, and IgM. There are 4 IgG and 2 IgA subtypes present in humans.

Antibodies are created by plasma cells which are derived from the B-cells in the immune system. Due to the fact that antibodies exist freely in the bloodstream or bound to cell membranes, they are said to be part of the humoral immune system.
Every different antibody recognizes a specific foreign antigen. This is because the two tips of its “Y” are different to each antibody are allow different antibodies to bind to different foreign antigens. When the antibody binds to a bacteria, it tags the microbe or virus for attack by the immune system such as killer T-cells. Sometimes, antibodies can directly neutralize the foreign body. The production of antibodies by B-cells is the main function of the humoral immune system.

Autoimmune disorders can usually be traced to antibodies which bind the body’s own proteins or epitopes, and these types of antibodies can be detected through serological blood tests. Due to the amazing specificity of antibodies, they have some important practical applications in both medicine for the detection of HIV and other viruses in blood, and in research to purify and detect proteins in the study of molecular biology. For example, currently medicine is using biotechnologically designed monoclonal antibodies which work as an antibody therapy. These methods are being employed recently and are the result of numerous clinical trials in a number of diseases including cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome – Is This the Cause of All Autoimmune Diseases?

Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (also APS, phospholipid antibody syndrome, or Hughes syndrome) is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body’s immune system produces antibodies which attack the normal healthy cells. These antibodies called antiphospholipids, can cause blood clots (usually in leg veins, brain), pregnancy complications, loss of consciousness, stroke, or heart attack. Other signs of this illness may include: rashes, migraines, heart problems, and bleeding.

Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome – two basic types

There are two types of the syndrome: primary (if there are no other autoimmune diseases present) and secondary (if another autoimmune disease is present, such as lupus for example). When the disease is secondary, the cause is always the primary autoimmune disorder.

If the APS is primary, the cause is not always known. It is suspected to be a combination of: genetics (having a relative with antiphospholipid antibodies), infections (syphilis or hepatitis C), and medications (such as hydralazine for high blood pressure) that may trigger the disease.

Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome – conventional treatment approaches

The main goal of the treatment for the condition is to prevent clotting by thinning the blood. Treatments used for this are:

  • Anticoagulants, such as heparin, warfarin, and even aspirin are used as blood thinners
  • Corticosteroids (mainly prednisone) are used to suppress the overactive immune system and reduce inflammation.
  • Intravenous gamma globulin treatment may be prescribed during pregnancy, but it has the same efficacy levels as aspirin and heparin.

Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome – rare complications

Catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome is rare complication of antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, in which many blood vessels are affected, as well as many organs (brain, heart, skin, lungs etc.). The treatment involves blood thinners, corticosteroids and plasma exchange therapy.

Other more common complications

  • Stroke – due to the reduced blood flow to the brain.
  • Kidney failure – because of the decreased blood flow to the kidneys.
  • Pregnancy complications – miscarriages, fetal death, premature birth; or high blood pressure during pregnancy.
  • Lung problems – pulmonary embolism or high blood pressure in the lungs.
  • Cardiovascular damage – due to the blood clots in the whole body, which may cause damage to the leg veins and as a result of blood not being able to reach the heart, different heart problems, including a heart attack.

Blood tests:

Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome and the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies can be detected with certain blood tests, which are usually repeated to complete the diagnosis. These antibodies can also be found in people who don’t develop antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, most likely caused by some infectious diseases (bacterial, viral or by a parasite), or certain drugs (antibiotics, cocaine, etc.).

This condition is now pinpointed as one of the main potential culprits of a number of autoimmune diseases, but some recent advances in the field of autoimmune disease research offer new found hope to people afflicted by this life-altering condition.

You can learn more by visiting the home page of the protocol as well as get a more detailed image about the antiphospholipid antibody syndrome.

Antisperm Antibodies

There are many causes and reasons for infertility in males, of which one of them is antisperm antibodies. A man suffering from antisperm antibodies generally gets sensitized to sperm, to cause an immune system that destroys the sperms found in the body.

In a normal man, a barrier in his testes protects the sperm from the immune system. However, those men with antisperm antibodies have a broken barrier wherein immune cells can easily access the sperm. With the unique antigen surface that is found on such sperms, the immune system detects its presence and thus triggers a response.

About 10% of infertile men suffer from antisperm antibodies and this is what interferes with the quality and function of the sperm. It is depending on the location of the antibodies that the sperm is affected. If the antibodies are on the tail, then the sperms are either immobilized or found clumped together. If they are found on the head, then the sperm is prevented from binding to the egg, and thus prevents fertilization from taking place.

There are various causes for antisperm antibodies developing, of which the main reason is the cervical mucus found in some woman. This cervical mucus tends to develop antibodies in the sperm and is the cause of about 40% of the unexplained infertility in couples. Even anything that disrupts the barrier found between the sperm and immune system like infection, injury to the testicles and twisting of testicles can lead to antisperm antibodies.

Other causes of antisperm antibodies are undescended testicles, testicular biopsy and cancer, varicocele and congenital absence of vas deferens. About 70% of men who had a vasectomy reversal have also been found to have antisperm antibodies.

Doctors can easily diagnose antisperm antibodies with an analysis of the man’s sperm and by analyzing the woman’s cervical mucus after sex for any antibodies. However, when diagnosed with antisperm antibodies, it is not easy to eliminate the antibodies. High doses of cortico steroids generally lower the number of antibodies to restore fertility temporarily. However, these high doses bring with it many serious side effects.

This is the reason couples who suffer from this condition usually turn to assisted reproductive technologies to conceive a baby. One of the techniques used here is washing the sperm before in vitro fertilization. With this, the sperm can produce fertilized eggs better for implantation. Sometimes, washing of the sperm is also used in intrauterine insemination.

Overcome Male Infertility – What is an Antisperm Antibody Test?

As we mentioned in previous articles, infertility is defined as the inability of a couple to conceive after 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse. It effects over 5 million couples alone in the U. S. and many times more in the world. Because of an unawareness of treatments, only 10% seek help from professional specialists. In this article, we will discuss what is a male infertility antisperm antibody test.

I. Definition
An antisperm antibody test is defined as a test to look for any abnormal functioning of the immune system’s antibodies that fight against a male’s sperm in blood, vaginal fluids, or semen. With a substance added to the sample sperm, the test will tell whether the sperm is affected by proteins of the immune system or not. If you would like to know the immunity causes of infertility, please refer back to previous articles.

II. Procedure
a) Reason for this test
If you cannot find the cause for infertility from other tests such as the postcoital test.

b) A medical information form is required so you can understand the risk, how to prepare, how it is done, and what are the possible results.

c) For women: blood, vaginal fluid and uterus mucus samples are required.

d) For men, semen sample is collected by masturbation. It is important that you should not ejaculate for 2 days before the test and go longer than 5 days before the test without ejaculating. Semen samples should be collected within 48 hours of ejaculating or after not ejaculating for longer than 5 days may alter the test result.

III. Analysis
The purpose of this analysis is to find the possible causes of infertility due to immunity malfunction. Here are the possible outcomes:
1. If antisperm antibody is found on the head of sperm, causing the inability of the sperm to efficiently make its way through a woman’s cervical mucus, then medication is required

2. If antisperm antibody is found on the tail of sperm, it may cause the sperm to risk becoming immobilized or clumping together, you are required to take some medication.

3. If antisperm antibodies are found in the cervical mucus, then medication is given or other treatments may be required.

4. If no antisperm antibody is found, other test may be required.