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Superovulation with an anti-inhibin monoclonal antibody improves the reproductive performance of rat strains by increasing the pregnancy rate and the litter size

Rats are multiparous rodents that have been used extensively in research; however, the low reproductive performance of some rat strains hampers the broader use of rats as a biomedical model. In this study, the possibility of increasing the litter size after natural mating in rats through superovulation using an anti-inhibin monoclonal antibody (AIMA) was examined. In outbred Wistar rats, AIMA increased the number of ovulated oocytes by 1.3-fold. AIMA did not affect fertilization and subsequent embryonic development, resulting in a 1.4-fold increase in litter size and a high pregnancy rate (86%). In contrast, conventional superovulation by eCG/hCG administration decreased the pregnancy rate to 6–40% and did not increase the litter size. In inbred Brown Norway rats, AIMA increased the litter size by 1.2-fold, and the pregnancy rate increased more than twice (86% versus 38% in controls). AIMA also increased the litter size by 1.5-fold in inbred Tokai High Avoiders and Fischer 344 rats. AIMA increased the efficiency of offspring production by 1.5-, 2.7-, 1.4-, and 1.4-fold, respectively, in the four rat strains. Thus, AIMA may consistently improve the reproductive performance through natural mating in rats, which could promote the use of AIMA in biomedical research.