Immunocontraception with porcine ZP (pZP) can be an effective means of fertility control in feral horses. Previous studies suggest that antibodies produced after pZP vaccination may both inhibit fertilization and cause follicular dysgenesis. Zonastat-H, PZP-22, and SpayVac are three pZP vaccines proposed for use in horses. Although all these vaccines contain the pZP antigen, variations in antigen preparation and vaccine formulation lead to differences in antigenic properties among them. Likewise, despite numerous efficacy and safety studies of Zonastat-H and PZP-22, the contraceptive mechanisms of SpayVac remain unclear. The preparation of pZP for SpayVac is thought to include more nonzona proteins, making it less pure than the other two vaccines. This may result in increased antigenicity of the vaccine. We therefore investigated the immunoreactivity of serum antibodies from SpayVac-vaccinated mares to equine zona protein. Western blot analyses revealed an immunoreactivity of these antibodies to protein isolated from mature equine oocytes, ZP, follicular tissues, and ovarian tissues. Immunohistochemical analyses were used to locate the binding of serum antibodies to the ZP of immature oocytes in ovarian stromal tissue. We also found serum antibodies from SpayVac-treated mares to be predominantly specific for zona protein 3. Collectively, our results suggest a model where serum antibodies produced in response to SpayVac vaccination are immunoreactive to equine zona protein in vitro. Our study lends insight into the contraceptive mechanisms underlying the infertility observed after SpayVac vaccination.
Keywords: Contraception; Equus caballus; Fertility control; Immunocontraception; Porcine ZP.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.