Objective: To study the frequency of vasectomy in men with primary progressive aphasia (PPA).
Background: PPA is a dementia syndrome in which aphasia emerges in relative isolation during the initial stages of illness. On the basis of a clinical observation in a patient who dated the onset of symptoms to the period after a vasectomy, and because of the curious sharing of the tau protein exclusively by brain and sperm, vasectomy rates were examined in men with PPA.
Method: This study used a case control design. Forty-seven men with PPA and 57 men with no cognitive impairment (NC) between 55 and 80 years of age were surveyed about a history of vasectomy.
Results: The age-adjusted rate of vasectomy in PPA patients (40%) was higher than in NC (16%, P=0.02). There was a younger age at onset for the patients with vasectomy (58.8 vs. 62.9 y, P=0.03).
Conclusions: Vasectomy may constitute one risk factor for PPA in men. Potential mechanisms mediating risk include vasectomy-induced immune responses to sperm, which shares antigenic epitopes with brain. Antisperm antibodies can also develop in women and become risk factors for PPA.