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Birth control vaccine targeting leukemia inhibitory factor

Lemons, AR;Naz, RK;

The population explosion and unintended pregnancies resulting in elective abortions continue to impose major public health issues. This calls for a better method of contraception. Immunocontraception has been proposed as a valuable alternative that can fulfill most, if not all, of the properties of an ideal contraceptive. There are several targets that are being explored for contraceptive vaccine development. Leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), a member of interleukin-6 family, is required for embryo development and successful blastocyst implantation in several mammalian species. The present study was conducted to examine if LIF can be a target for the development of a birth control vaccine. Three sequences from LIF and two sequences from LIF-receptor (LIF-R) that span the regions involved in ligand-receptor binding were delineated, and peptides were synthesized based upon these sequences. Antibodies raised against these five peptides reduced LIF bioactivity in an in vitro culture assay using BA/F3 mLIF-R-mpg130 cells. Vaccines were prepared by conjugating these peptides to various carrier proteins. Immunization of female mice with these peptide vaccines induced a long-lasting, circulating as well as local antibody response in various parts of the genital tract, and resulted in a significant (P0.05) inhibition in fertility in all the three trials; the LIF-R peptide vaccines proved to be a better vaccine target. The data indicate that LIF/LIF-R is an excellent target for the development of a birth control vaccine. This is the first study, to our knowledge, that examined LIF/LIF-R as a target for immunocontraception. The findings of this study can be easily translated to humans since LIF/LIF-R is also important for implantation and pregnancy in women.