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Vaccine. 2002 Nov 22;21(1-2):78-88.

Evaluation of the immunocontraceptive potential of Escherichia coli expressed recombinant non-human primate zona pellucida glycoproteins in homologous animal model.

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Gamete Antigen Laboratory, National Institute of Immunology, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi 110 067, India.


In order to evaluate the immunocontraceptive potential of zona pellucida (ZP) glycoproteins, recombinant bonnet monkey (Macaca radiata) zona pellucida glycoprotein-1 (r-bmZP1) and -2 (r-bmZP2) were expressed as polyhistidine fusion proteins in Escherichia coli. Female bonnet monkeys were immunized with the purified r-bmZP1 (n=5) and r-bmZP2 (n=4) conjugated to diphtheria toxoid (DT). Immunization led to generation of antibodies against r-bmZP1, r-bmZP2 and DT as determined by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay. The immunized animals exhibited normal menstrual cyclicity and progesterone profile, except during the summer amenorrhoea. Immunized animals, when mated with males of proven fertility, showed protection from conceiving for cumulative 45 ovulatory cycles in r-bmZP1-DT immunized group and 32 ovulatory cycles in r-bmZP2-DT immunized group. Ovarian histopathology of both the immunized groups revealed the presence of atretic follicles with degenerated oocytes, which may have been the principle cause for the failure of immunized animals to conceive in spite of the decline in either anti-r-bmZP1 or anti-r-bmZP2 antibody titres to background levels. These studies demonstrate, for the first time, that the block of fertility subsequent to immunization with r-bmZP1 and r-bmZP2, in a homologous non-human primate model, may be mediated due to ovarian dysfunction.

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