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The moment of the fertilization of an egg by a spermatozoon-the point of "sperm success"-is a key milestone in the biology of sexually reproducing species and is a fundamental requirement for offspring production. Fertilization also represents the culmination of a suite of sexually selected processes in both sexes and is commonly used as a landmark to measure reproductive success. Sperm success is heavily dependent upon interactions with other key aspects of male and female biology, with the immune system among the most important. The immune system is vital to maintaining health in both sexes; however, immune reactions can also have antagonistic effects on sperm success. The effects of immunity on sperm success are diverse, and may include trade-offs in the male between investment in the production or protection of sperm, as well as more direct, hostile, immune responses to sperm within the female, and potentially the male, reproductive tract. Here, we review current understanding of where the biology of immunity and sperm meet, and identify the gaps in our knowledge.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Top Dev Biol

Publication Date





287 - 313


Anti-sperm antibodies, Cryptic female choice, Fertility, Fertilization, Immunity, Innate immunity, Reproductive tract, Resource allocation, Sperm competition, Sperm storage, Trade-offs