Female guinea pigs were injected with the following materials: homogenates of guinea pig testis in saline or in adjuvant; suspensions of washed guinea pig sperm in saline or in adjuvant; homogenates of rabbit testis in adjuvant; guinea pig sperm and rabbit sperm in adjuvant. Control animals were not injected or were injected with adjuvant alone.
At various times between 15 and 39 days after injection, the animals were sacrificed. Their ilea and uterine horns were removed and tested in vitro for reaction to washed epididymal sperm of the guinea pig, rabbit, or bull.
It was found that the animals which were injected with homologous testis or sperm in adjuvant possessed organs which responded strongly to the challenge with homologous sperm. The response was a contracture which began 10 to 30 seconds after the sperm were injected into the bath and lasted for 5 minutes to 4 hours, the longest period of observation. Responses which lasted for periods of 5 minutes to 30 minutes were obtained with the uteri of the animals injected with guinea pig testis in saline or with guinea pig sperm in saline. Animals which were injected with rabbit testis and adjuvant responded to rabbit sperm, and animals injected with guinea pig sperm and rabbit sperm in adjuvant reacted to both gametes.
A large proportion of the control animals possessed organs which reacted weakly to the challenge with homologous sperm. Retesting the organ which had contracted following exposure to sperm indicated that desensitization had occurred. Testing with heterologous sperm indicated a species selectivity.
The evidence is interpreted to mean that injections of sperm or testis induce a hypersensitivity which is similar in some respects but differs from true anaphylaxis.
The findings are discussed from the point of view of the nature of the response and the implications regarding natural immunity to sperm.