A decade of rabbit fertility data: study of historical control animals.

Research paper by E L EL Feussner, G E GE Lightkep, R A RA Hennesy, A M AM Hoberman, M S MS Christian

Indexed on: 01 Oct '92Published on: 01 Oct '92Published in: Teratology


Reproductive data for 1795 artificially inseminated Hra: (NZW)SPF control rabbits in 93 developmental toxicity studies conducted from 1980 through 1989 were summarized. Data were obtained during terminal Caesarean-sectioning procedures performed on animals which survived to day 29 of gestation and during postmortem evaluation of does which aborted, delivered prematurely, or were found dead. Significant seasonal variation was not observed. Average pregnancy rate, percentage of rabbits that aborted, and percentage of rabbits that delivered prematurely throughout the decade were 86, 2.0, and 1.6%, respectively. Average numbers of corpora lutea, implantations, live fetuses, dead fetuses, early resorptions, and late resorptions for each doe that survived to scheduled termination were 10.8, 7.8, 7.1, 0.02, 0.49, and 0.15, respectively. The various vehicles used, routes of administration, and a variety of maternal and paternal factors were compared with the fertility data, and no correlations were observed. Rabbits that aborted earlier in gestation had fewer implantations than does which aborted late or delivered prematurely. Does which resorbed 100% of their conceptuses had fewer corpora lutea and implantations when compared with rabbits in the remainder of the population. Rabbits pregnant at scheduled termination which had a low number of corpora lutea or implantation sites had higher than expected pre- and postimplantation losses relative to the population as a whole. Does with a high number of corpora lutea had significantly higher preimplantation loss relative to the general population. This may indicate the presence of a "ceiling value" for the number of ova that can become fertilized and/or implant when the ovulation rate is high and which probably varies according to strain as well as a number of factors related to the individual rabbit. Based upon the results of this study and the work of a previous author, a minimum of four corpora lutea may be necessary for the successful maintenance of pregnancy in the New Zealand white rabbit. The minimum number of corpora lutea required may be strain dependent and may bear a relationship to the normal litter size of the strain.