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Nature. 1988 Oct 6;335(6190):543-6.

Fully effective contraception in male and female guinea pigs immunized with the sperm protein PH-20.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington 06032.


Immunization of male and female animals with extracts of whole sperm cells is known to cause infertility. Also, men and women who spontaneously produce antisperm antibodies are infertile but otherwise healthy. Although the critical sperm antigens are unknown, these observations have led to the proposal that sperm proteins might be useful in the development of a contraceptive vaccine. The guinea pig sperm surface protein PH-20 is essential in sperm adhesion to the extracellular coat (zona pellucida) of the egg, a necessary initial step in fertilization. Here, we report that 100% effective contraception was obtained in male and female guinea pigs immunized with PH-20. Antisera from immunized females had high titres, specifically recognized PH-20 in sperm extracts, and blocked sperm adhesion to the egg zona pellucida in vitro. The contraceptive effect was long-lasting and reversible: immunized females, mated at intervals of six to fifteen months after immunization, progressively regained fertility.

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