Intrauterine implantation of fertilized ova can be blocked by exposing recently inseminated females with an unfamiliar male. This selective pregnancy failure, designated as the Bruce effect (Bruce, Nature 1959; 184:105), is well studied in laboratory mice and has been confirmed in several other rodent species. However, no clear information exists concerning this phenomenon in the laboratory rat. The present study was conducted to investigate whether or not the Bruce effect exists in the rat. Females of two F1 hybrid strains (ntotal = 354) with different MHC genotypes (F344BNF1, RT1lv1/n, and LEWPVGF1, RT1l/c) were mated with males of their own strain and subsequently exposed during the first 4 days postcoitus either to a male of the other hybrid strain or to an unfamiliar male of the same strain as the stud. The litter rate of each treatment group was determined. As a control, mated females of both strains were reexposed to the stud male to determine baseline litter rates. Female rats of both F1 hybrid strains showed a significantly lower litter rate when exposed to males of a different strain than their stud male, compared to the expected values of birth rates observed in control females (F344BNF1: P = 0.017; LEWPVGF1: P = 0.019). In contrast, there was no difference between expected and observed litter rates in females of both F1 hybrid strains after exposure to an unfamiliar male of the same strain as their stud. Our results demonstrate for the first time that the Bruce effect, well documented in mice, occurs in the Norway rat.
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Vol. 86 • No. 1