Author(s): Naz RK, Gupta SK, Gupta JC, Vyas HK, Talwar AG
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Abstract Contraceptive vaccines (CV) may provide viable and valuable alternatives to the presently available methods of contraception. The molecules that are being explored for CV development either target gamete production [luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH)/GnRH, FSH], gamete function [sperm antigens and oocyte zona pellucida (ZP)], and gamete outcome (HCG). CV targeting gamete production have shown varied degrees of efficacy; however, they either affect sex steroids causing impotency and/or show only a partial rather than a complete effect in inhibiting gametogenesis. However, vaccines based on LHRH/GnRH are being developed by several pharmaceutical companies as substitutes for castration of domestic pets, farm and wild animals, and for therapeutic anticancer purposes such as in prostatic hypertrophy and carcinoma. These vaccines may also find applications in clinical situations that require the inhibition of increased secretions of sex steroids, such as in uterine fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis and precocious puberty. CV targeting molecules involved in gamete function such as sperm antigens and ZP proteins are exciting choices. Sperm constitute the most promising and exciting target for CV. Several sperm-specific antigens have been delineated in several laboratories and are being actively explored for CV development. Studies are focused on delineating appropriate sperm-specific epitopes, and increasing the immunogenicity (specifically in the local genital tract) and efficacy on the vaccines. Anti-sperm antibody (ASA)-mediated immunoinfertility provides a naturally occurring model to indicate how a vaccine might work in humans. Vaccines based on ZP proteins are quite efficacious in producing contraceptive effects, but may induce oophoritis, affecting sex steroids. They are being successfully tested to control feral populations of dogs, deer, horses and elephants, and populations of several species of zoo animals. The current research for human applicability is focused on delineating infertility-related epitopes (B-cell epitopes) from oophoritis-inducing epitopes (T-cell epitopes). Vaccines targeting gamete outcome primarily focus on the HCG molecule. The HCG vaccine is the first vaccine to undergo Phase I and II clinical trials in humans. Both efficacy and lack of immunopathology have been reasonably well demonstrated for this vaccine. At the present time, studies are focused on increasing the immunogenicity and efficacy of the birth control vaccine, and examining its clinical applications in various HCG-producing cancers. The present article will focus on the current status of the anti-sperm, anti-ZP, anti-LHRH/GnRH and anti-HCG vaccines.
This article was published in Hum Reprod
and referenced in Journal of Vaccines & Vaccination