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To assess the frequency of dietary xenoglycanNeu5Gc and antibodies in males and females and its impact on fertility.


Prospective study of semen, uterine lavage, and follicular fluid from subjects undergoing infertility evaluation or in vitro fertilization (IVF) and fertile controls.


University based infertility program.


Males (n=23) and females (n=27) undergoing semen analysis and saline infusion sonography as part of their diagnostic evaluation and 37 women undergoing IVF were compared to fertile male (n=15) and female (n=14) controls.


Neu5Gc was measured by affinity purified antibody staining on Western blots, flow cytometry, and by high performance liquid chromatography. Anti-Neu5Gc antibodies were determined by ELISA.

Main parameters measured

Frequency and levels of Neu5Gc antigen within sperm and endometrial cells and antibodies in semen, uterine lavage, and follicular fluid. Semen quality and IVF outcomes were assessed between antigen and antibody positive and negative subjects.


In infertile subjects, Neu5Gc was detected in 26% of sperm and 54% of endometrial cells compared to 0% in male and 0% female controls. Anti-Neu5Gc antibodies were identified in 54% of seminal fluid, 41% in uterine lavage and 43% of follicular fluid samples. There were no differences in semen parameters, oocyte quality, and embryo development in the presence or absence of Neu5Gc antigen or antibody. However, clinical pregnancy rate was significantly lower in the presence of anti-Neu5Gc antibodies intrauterine lavage (0% vs. 54.5.0%, p<0.05).


Neu5Gc and directed antibodies are present in reproductive tracts of both male and female infertility subjects. Our results suggest their presence may interfere with fertility within the uterine environment.


©2015 M. Sroga JM. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.