Immunization of ewes against growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF9) or bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15) can lead to an increased ovulation rate; however, it is not known whether normal pregnancies occur following such treatments. The aims of the present study were to determine the effects of a short-term immunization regimen against BMP15 and GDF9 on ovulation rate, fertilization of released oocytes, the ability of fertilized oocytes to undergo normal fetal development, and the ability of immunized ewes to carry a pregnancy to term. Ewes were given a primary and booster immunization against keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH; control, n = 50), a GDF9-specific peptide conjugated to KLH (GDF9, n = 30), or a BMP15-specific peptide conjugated to KLH (BMP15, n = 30). The estrous cycles of all ewes were synchronized, and ewes were joined with fertile rams approximately 14 days after the booster immunization. The number of corpora lutea was determined by laparoscopy 3-4 days following mating. Subsequently, about one-half of the ewes in each group underwent an embryo transfer procedure 4-6 days following mating, with the embryos being transferred to synchronized, nonimmunized recipients. The remaining ewes were allowed to carry their pregnancies to term. Short-term immunization against either BMP15 or GDF9 peptides resulted in an increase in ovulation rate with no apparent detrimental affects on fertilization of released oocytes, the ability of fertilized oocytes to undergo normal fetal development, or the ability of the immunized ewes to carry a pregnancy to term. Therefore, regulation of BMP15, GDF9, or both is potentially a new technique to enhance fecundity in some mammals.
- Corpus luteum
- Growth factors