In a study designed to evaluate the contraceptive potential of anti-egg zona pellucida immunization, bitches were injected with isolated and solubilized zonae pellucidae of either the pig or the dog in saline and Freund's adjuvant or with saline and adjuvant alone (controls). They were boosted monthly, and serum samples were collected before the first injection and 10 days after each injection. The titers of anti-zona pellucida antibodies in each serum sample were measured by treating fresh canine oocytes with the serum, then evaluating antibody binding as indicated by indirect immunofluorescence, precipitation of the zona surface, and penetrability of the zonae by spermatozoa in vitro. The bitches were bred when they came into estrus.
All three bitches immunized with porcine zonae developed high titers (1:10,000 or more by indirect immunofluorescence) of antibodies that cross-reacted with canine zonae to cause precipitation of the zona surface both in vivo and in vitro and that completely inhibited penetration of the zonae by spermatozoa in vitro. The two bitches immunized with canine zonae developed only low titers, and their sera had little or no effect on treated zonae. The two control bitches did not develop anti-zona antibody. None of the bitches immunized against porcine zonae became pregnant when bred, but one bitch immunized against canine zonae and one control did become pregnant. The bitches immunized with porcine zonae had somewhat abnormal cycles for unknown reasons. Thus, we could not establish with certainty whether the infertility resulted from specific interference with fertilization, as in vitro, or from alterations in ovarian function, or both.