This report describes the successful use of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) vaccine to suppress ovarian steroidogenic activity and to treat hemorrhage and anemia associated with reproductive tract pathology in a 59-year-old Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). The Repro-BLOC® GnRH vaccine was administered subcutaneously as a series of 4 boosters of increasing dose from 3 to 30 mg of recombinant ovalbumin-GnRH fusion protein given at variable intervals after initial vaccination with 3 mg protein. Efficacy was confirmed over a year after initial vaccination based on complete ovarian cycle suppression determined by serum progestagen analyses. Estrous cycle suppression was associated with a significant increase in GnRH antibody binding and subsequent decrease in serum luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone concentrations. Ultrasonographic examinations of the reproductive tract documented a reduction in uterine size and vascularity after immunization. The hematocrit level normalized soon after the initial intrauterine hemorrhage, and no recurrence of anemia has been detected. No substantive adverse effects were associated with GnRH vaccination. The results indicate that GnRH vaccination in elephants shows potential for contraception and management of uterine pathology in older elephants.
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