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The major bactericidal activity of human seminal plasma is zinc-dependent and derived from fragmentation of the semenogelins.

Edstrom A.M., Malm J., Frohm B., Martellini J.A., Giwercman A., Morgelin M., Cole A.M., Sorensen O.E.

One of the major roles of seminal plasma is to provide antimicrobial protection for the spermatozoa in the female reproductive tract. We found that the bactericidal activity of seminal plasma was highest after resolution of the seminal clot and that this antibacterial activity subsequently became greatly diminished. The antibacterial activity was derived from peptides generated by fragmentation of the semenogelins while the semenogelin holoproteins displayed no antibacterial activity. After ejaculation the semenogelin-derived peptides were fragmented to smaller and smaller fragments over time and thereby lost antibacterial activity. This paralleled the loss of antibacterial activity of whole seminal plasma both in vitro and after sexual intercourse. Moreover, the antibacterial activity of the semenogelin-derived peptides generated in seminal plasma was strictly zinc-dependent both at neutral and low pH. These data provide novel roles for the resolution of seminal clots and for the high zinc concentration in human seminal plasma.

J. Immunol. 181:3413-3421(2008) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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