Citation Lemons AR, Naz RK. Contraceptive vaccines targeting factors involved in establishment of pregnancy. Am J Reprod Immunol 2011; 66: 13–25
Current methods of contraception lack specificity and are accompanied with serious side effects. A more specific method of contraception is needed. Contraceptive vaccines can provide most, if not all, the desired characteristics of an ideal contraceptive. This article reviews several factors involved in the establishment of pregnancy, focusing on those that are essential for successful implantation. Factors that are both essential and pregnancy-specific can provide potential targets for contraception. Using database search, 76 factors (cytokines/chemokines/growth factors/others) were identified that are involved in various steps of the establishment of pregnancy. Among these factors, three, namely chorionic gonadotropin (CG), leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), and pre-implantation factor (PIF), are found to be unique and exciting molecules. Human CG is a well-known pregnancy-specific protein that has undergone phase I and phase II clinical trials, in women, as a contraceptive vaccine with encouraging results. LIF and PIF are pregnancy-specific and essential for successful implantation. These molecules are intriguing and may provide viable targets for immunocontraception. A multiepitope vaccine combining factors/antigens involved in various steps of the fertilization cascade and pregnancy establishment may provide a highly immunogenic and efficacious modality for contraception in humans.