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Immunomodulatory function of seminal catecholamines may be an adaptation for reproduction

Authors
Journal
Medical Hypotheses
0306-9877
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
63
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2004.02.037

Abstract

Abstract Catecholamines are found at high concentrations in seminal fluid. The exact functional significance of seminal catecholamines is unknown. We hypothesize that seminal catecholamines perform important immunomodulatory functions that support reproductive success. Specifically, we propose that catecholamines contribute to a local adaptive shift of T helper (Th) balance to Th2 dominance in the maternal reproductive tract to enable the gametes, and possibly the nascent zygote, to evade immune surveillance of the female. Our hypothesis suggests that the Th2 effects of catecholamines are independent of the direct immunomodulatory effects of seminal cytokines such as prostaglandin E2 and transforming growth factor β 1. Potential immunomodulatory functions of other seminal constituents such as aldosterone, oxytocin, vasopressin, and angiotensin remain unexplored and represents a topic of future interest. Seminal stress hormones may play a role in mating dynamics since alpha males typically live in a state of high hormonal stress, Mating with adrenalized alpha males may represent an adaptive Darwinian strategy by females to maximize their reproductive fitness.

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