Inoculation of female American black bears (Ursus americanus) with partially purified porcine zona pellucidae limits cub production

V Michael Lane, Irwin Liu, K. Casey, E. M G VanLeeuwen, D. R. Flanagan, K. Murata, C. Munro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The present 2-year study investigated the feasibility of using porcine zona pellucidae (pZP) as antigen for immunocontraception in American black bears. Sows, 3-6 years of age, were administered either two doses of 250 μg pZP with Freund's adjuvant (n = 10) or adjuvant alone (n = 5), one in April and one in May, and were kept away from the boars until June. Serum samples were collected before injections and before denning (November). The presence of sows with cubs at side was observed during premature emergence from denning. First-year results indicated that anti-pZP antibody titres in vaccinated sows were 2.5-9.0-fold (range) higher compared with non-vaccinated sows and that the vaccinated sows were threefold less likely to become pregnant (P = 0.167). Control and vaccinated bears produced 1.6 and 0.2 cubs per sow, respectively (P = 0.06). The second-year study investigated the feasibility of using pZP sequestered in a controlled-release pellet and a water-soluble adjuvant (QS-21) to avoid regulatory problems associated with Freund's adjuvant. Sows in the treatment group (n = 22) were administered a single dose of an emulsion of 250 μg pZP and 150 μg QS-21 plus a pellet containing 70-90 μg pZP for delayed release as booster dose. Control sows (n = 5) received the QS-21 adjuvant in pellet alone. Serum samples were collected before inoculations (April) and before denning (November). Seven cubs were born to the five control sows, but none was born to the 22 vaccinated sows (P < 0.001). Anti-pZP antibody mean absorbance ratios in control sows remained at background levels, whereas vaccinated sows had ratios fourfold higher than controls. Two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and immunohistochemical localisation confirmed immunoreactivity of sera from inoculated bears. We conclude that cub production in the American black bear can be effectively limited with either two injections of 250 μg pZP or a single inoculation of partially purified pZP sequestered in controlled-release pellets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-625
Number of pages9
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Reproductive Medicine


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