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Open Access Embryo Transfer in the Rat as a Tool to Determine Genetic Components of the Gestational Environment

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Embryo transfer, with the recipient dam nursing the transferred progeny, was used to study the impact of the gestational environment on adult blood pressure (BP) in three inbred rat strains, the hypertensive Dahl salt-sensitive SS/JrCtr, the normotensive Dahl salt-hypertension resistant SR/Jr, and the normotensive Dark Agouti rat. Rats that had been cross-fostered within 6 h of birth were included as a control for lactational and nurturing factors. Systolic BP was measured by tail-cuff plethysmography twice a week in rats after the age of 7 weeks. Embryo transfer success, measured as the percentage of embryos transferred resulting in pups weaned at 4 weeks, was 27% between the SS/JrCtr and SR/Jr and 53% for the SS/JrCtr and Dark Agouti. This assessment included all failures, some of which probably were not associated with the transfer. If only the number of embryos transferred to dams with successful pregnancies was included, the success rate was 48% between the SS/JrCtr and SR/Jr and 82% between the SS/JrCtr and Dark Agouti strains. Anomalies in pups were not evident.

In contrast to the lactational environment, the gestational milieu had a profound effect on basal blood pressure of the hypertensive SS/JrCtr progeny, less of an effect on that of the Dark Agouti, and no effect on that of the SR/Jr. Although the SS/JrCtr strain is significantly larger than the SR/Jr and Dark Agouti strains, neither embryo transfer nor cross-fostering altered body weight of rats at the age of 6 weeks. These data indicate that embryo transfer can be an easy and efficient method of isolating genetically determined factors of the gestational environment.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Animal Sciences and Department of Internal Medicine, University of Missouri-Columbia and Research Service, Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital, Columbia, Missouri

Publication date: 1999-02-01

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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