Safety and effectiveness of a single and repeat intramuscular injection of a GnRH vaccine (GonaCon™) in adult female domestic cats

L. M. Vansandt, M. A. Kutzler, A. E. Fischer, K. N. Morris, W. F. Swanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sterilization is a key strategy to reduce the number of domestic cats entering and killed in shelters each year. However, surgical sterilization is expensive and labour-intensive and cannot fully address the 70 million free-roaming cats estimated to exist in the United States. GonaCon™ is a gonadotropin-releasing hormone vaccine originally developed for use as a wildlife immunocontraceptive. An earlier formulation was tested in domestic cats and found to be safe and effective for long-term contraception. However, the current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered formulation consists of a different antigen-carrier protein and increased antigen concentration and has never been tested in cats. A pilot study was undertaken to evaluate the short-term safety of a single GonaCon immunization, assess the consequences of vaccinated cats receiving an accidental second GonaCon injection and determine the humoral immune response to immunization. During Phase 1, cats in Group A (n = 3) received a single intramuscular injection of GonaCon and Group B (n = 3) received a single intramuscular injection of saline. During Phase 2, Group A received a second GonaCon injection and Group B received their initial GonaCon injection. All cats developed GnRH antibodies within 30 days of vaccine administration. The endpoint titre (1:1,024,000) was similar among all cats, and levels remained high throughout the duration of the study. Four cats developed a sterile, painless, self-limiting mass at the site of injection. The mean number of days to mass development was 110.3 (range, 18–249 days). In conclusion, this preliminary study suggests that the EPA-registered GonaCon formulation is safe for continued testing in domestic cats, an accidental revaccination should not increase the risk of a vaccine reaction and the EPA-registered formulation effectively elicits a strong humoral immune response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)348-353
Number of pages6
JournalReproduction in Domestic Animals
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology

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