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    Peer Reviewed

    [Immunological birth control] Immunologische Geburtenkontrolle.

    Hinney B


    The Special Program of Research Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction of WHO has been supporting new and improved methods of contraception since the 1970s for about 600 million couples in reproductive age in developing countries. A new approach is the immunological influencing of fertility by vaccine. In man spermatozoa surface antigens, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), gonadotropin, and sexual steroids serve as target antigens. In women the potential antigens are more spermatozoa surface antigens, zona-pellucida antigens, trophoblast surface antigens, and embryonal antigens as well as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), GnRH, gonadotropins, and sexual steroids. Most of these produced untoward side effects. The most promising is the immunization against spermatozoa surface antigens and against HCG. Anti-HCG antibodies bound to tetanus toxin carrier produced contraception in primates, but its drawback was the cross reaction of the beta chain of the HCG molecule with luteinizing hormone (LH). This was avoided by using a synthetic peptide bound to diphtheria toxin. 43 women aged 26-43, who had been sterilized, were injected with this vaccine. In all 30 women who remained in the study dose-dependent antibody levels increased to provide contraception within 6 weeks that lasted 6 months. Side effects included mild myalgia, pruritus exanthem (2 cases), plasma cortisone increase (1 case), and menstrual disorder (5 cases). Outstanding questions remain: reversibility, allergic reactions, cross reaction with other organ systems, failure at the time of implantation, or immune reaction developing during pregnancy. These will preclude their universal introduction for some time to come.
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