Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Efficacy and safety of native and recombinant zona pellucida immunocontraceptive vaccines in donkeys.

Abstract

Feral and semi-feral donkeys are recognised as a problem in some world regions. The main problem associated with uncontrolled donkey populations is habitat degradation and competition for feed resources, especially in arid climes. Controlling population numbers would reduce the impact of donkeys and other species. While removal by various means is effective, it has been shown to stimulate reproductive rate. Probably the most effective and humane solution is reducing reproduction using minimally invasive methods including immunocontraception. This study tested the immunocontraceptive efficacy and safety of zona pellucida (ZP) vaccines, both recombinant (reZP; three treatments) and native porcine (pZP; two treatments) vaccines formulated with Freund's modified complete (primary) and Freund's incomplete (boosters) adjuvants in donkey jennies. Control jennies received adjuvants only (two treatments). Twenty-five non-pregnant jennies were randomly assigned to reZP (n = 9), pZP (n = 8) or control (n = 8) groups. Weekly monitoring of the reproductive tract and ovaries via transrectal palpation and ultrasound and inspection of injection sites was conducted and anti-pZP antibody titers were measured. Five weeks after last treatment, one donkey jack was introduced to each group and rotated every 21 days. By 232 days after last treatment the number pregnant and median days to pregnancy was 2/9 and 214 (reZP group), 1/8 and 196 (pZP group) and 8/8 and 77 (control group). Median time to ovarian shut-down was 77 (9/9) and 56 (7/8) days for reZP and pZP groups, respectively. This was observed in association with a distinct reduction in mean uterine diameter. The antibody response was equally good for both ZP-treated groups. Incorporation of Freund's adjuvants initially produced a high incidence of side effects from local swelling and intermittent lameness followed weeks later by sterile abscesses (reZP, 9/9; pZP, 7/8; control, 3/8). Both ZP vaccines effectively controlled reproduction in jennies, albeit with a high incidence of adjuvant-associated side effects.