Vaccines for the control of reproduction--status in mammals, and aspects of comparative interest
Delves PJ, Roitt IM.
Department of Immunology and Molecular Pathology,
Royal Free & University College Medical School,
Windeyer Institute of Medical Sciences, London, UK.
Dev Biol (Basel). 2005;121:265-73.


The objective of producing vaccines which target elements of the reproductive system to control fertility has been pursued for many years. Of the many targets for such vaccines, several sperm-associated antigens have been proposed for antibody-mediated intervention before fertilization but the very abundance of antigen to be neutralized has been a barrier. Zona pellucida antigens associated with the surface of the oocyte have also been targeted and used successfully for control of 'wild' elephant populations but worries concerning immunopathologically-mediated tissue damage have been mooted. Vaccines using human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) which is required for the implantation and maintenance of the fertilized egg, although of interest for the development of fertility control in human populations, has no relevance in the context of the present conference because external fertilization of fish eggs is independent. The pathways by which gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secreted by the hypothalamus promote release of luteinizing (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) which govern the physiological maturation and maintenance of the reproductive organs, provide many targets for immunological intervention. Most consistent success has been reported using GnRH-based vaccines which are immunosterilizing in a variety of mammalian species such as pigs, rodents and white-tailed deer. The fact that the structure of the decapeptide, GnRH, has been maintained over so many years of evolution and been conserved across so many animal species, encourages the view that a strategy for control of sexual maturation in fish based upon stimulation of GnRH antibodies may well prove to be a practical proposition, provided the formulation of an appropriate highly immunogenic vaccine can be achieved.
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