Vasectomy Correlated to PPA Dementia

February 17, 2007

A statistical correlation between vasectomy surgery and PPA (Primary Progressive Aphasia), a form of dementia, has been discovered by researcher Sandra Weintrau.

Weintraub theorizes a vasectomy may raise the risk of PPA (and possibly FTD) because the surgery breeches the protective barrier between the blood and the testes, called the blood-testis barrier.

Certain organs — including the testes and the brain — exist in what is the equivalent of a gated community in the body. Tiny tubes within the testes (in which sperm are produced) are protected by a physical barrier of Sertoli cells. The tight connections between these cells prevent blood-borne infections and poisonous molecules from entering the semen.

After a vasectomy, however, the protective barrier is broken and semen mixes into the blood. The immune system recognizes the sperm as invading foreign agents and produces anti-sperm antibodies in 60 to 70 percent of men.

Weintraub said these antibodies might cross the blood-brain-barrier and cause damage resulting in dementia. “There are other neurological models of disease which you can use as a parallel,” Weintraub said. Certain malignant tumors produce antibodies that reach the brain and cause an illness similar to encephalitis, she noted.

I didn’t know there was a blood-testis barrier that is similar to the blood-brain barrier. Fascinating.

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