I have been asked whether hormones are antigenic.
I would have to think that the answer is no because they are used as various drugs such as FSH in infertility treatments without the need of immunosupressants.
Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
Hormones have antigens. Usually they are antigens our immune systems recognize as self.
Pretty much any big biological molecule will have antigens. FSH is no exception. The binding of FSH to anti-FSH antibodies (in a laboratory system) is one way to measure FSH levels in a human.
B. High-affinity binding assays 1. Immunoassays. Immunoassays are widely used for clinical determination of FSH for diagnosis and in physiological studies because they are rapid, readily available, relatively cheap, and sensitive... Most commercially available assays are now based on sandwiches of monoclonal or monoclonal-polyclonal antibodies with a variety of detection modes and are generally more sensitive and precise than one-site assays. The latter assays are highly specific and may exclude some forms of the hormone of interest (e.g., Ref. 176).
The antibodies used to measure FSH are from other species of mammals - usually mice but sometimes other animals. People (and other animals) normally do not form antibodies to molecules that have been present in their bodies since development. The immune system is educated early on about what is self and so exempt from attack. Mouse FSH is antigenically different enough from human FSH that mice can be induced to form antibodies against human FSH and then those mouse antibodies are used to make the lab test. You can find out how those tests work with a little googling because they are for sale and their owners will brag about them.
It is possible to form antibodies against your own FSH or any other biomolecule in your body. That is autoimmunity and usually that is not good. The woman in the linked article was infertile because of antibodies against FSH. Her FSH level was very high because her pituitary was cranking it out. Her immune system bound it up as fast as it came out and so the FSH did not work.
We describe here a case of anti-FSH autoantibodies leading to persisting very high FSH serum levels in an infertile woman.