- PROBLEM: To assess the effect of seminal plasma (SP) of fertile and infertile men on leukocyte mitogenic response, and the capability of sperm cells to produce IL-I. METHODS: This study included four groups: fertile men (donors, normal), infertile men with azoospermia (azoo), oligo-terato-asthenozoospermia (OTA), and OTA with genital infection (OTA-inf). Mouse spleen cell proliferation in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or Concanavalin-A (Con-A) was examined in the presence of SP from the above four groups. Supematants (sup) and lysates (lys) of sperm cells from fertile and oligoteratoasthenospermic (OTA) men were evaluated for IL-1 bioactivity by specific bioassay. RESULTS: Seminal plasma (SP) of the four groups were shown to inhibit the mitogenic response of mouse spleen cells to LPS and Con-A. SP of fertile men was significantly more inhibitory than SP from infertile men. Sperm cells from fertile and OTA infertile men constitutively produced IL-1. Sperm cells of both groups produced similar levels of IL- 1 as examined in the supernatants and lysates. CONCLUSIONS: Seminal plasma of fertile men had more inhibitory mitogenic activity than that of OTA. Sperm cells constitutively produce IL- 1. It is possible that the factors involved in this inhibition are not only anti-proliferative immune factors. Cytokines and inhibitory factors of mitogenesis in the seminal plasma may be involved in the physiology and pathophysiology of sperm functions and thus affect male fertility.