Glycodelin is a glycoprotein produced in many glands, particularly those of reproductive tissues. It appears as different glycoforms in amniotic fluid (glycodelin-A) and seminal plasma (glycodelin-S), but only glycodelin-A inhibits gamete adhesion. In the present study, glycodelin from secretory-phase endometrium, first-trimester pregnancy decidua, and midtrimester amniotic fluid was studied with respect to physicochemical properties, including glycosylation patterns and inhibitory activity of sperm-egg binding. Purified glycodelins from all these sources were similar in isoelectric focusing and in lectin immunoassays using lectins from Wisteria floribunda and Sambucus nigra. Likewise, the glycodelins inhibited sperm-egg binding in a dose-dependent manner, as measured by hemizona-binding assay. However, subtle quantitative physicochemical and biological differences were found between glycodelins from different sources as well as within the same tissue/fluid between different individuals. Differences were most pronounced between endometrial glycodelins from nonpregnancy and first-trimester pregnancy. The glycan structures studied by fast-atom bombardment mass spectrometry of individual amniotic fluid glycodelin-A samples also showed interindividual quantitative differences. In conclusion, glycodelins from different female reproductive tract tissues and amniotic fluid share substantial similarity, allowing all of them to be called glycodelin-A. However, these glycodelins exhibit quantitative physicochemical and functional differences between different sources and individuals.
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