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Male rat gave birth to 10 cubs raised controversy
Published on: 2021-06-21
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A Weibo hashtag related to the study posted on the preprint server bioRxiv.org on Wednesday had been viewed more than 330 million times by Saturday, with commenters wondering if it would lead to “male mothers”.
 

“This is against the laws of nature. What is the significance of this kind of research?” one commenter wrote.
 

“The process is quite cruel. It’s like turning both the male and female rats into incubators,” another person said.
 

In the experiments, two researchers at Naval Medical University in Shanghai first surgically joined a castrated male rat and a female rat to form a parabiont – two organisms that share one blood system.
 

Eight weeks later, a uterus from a second female rat was transplanted into the male of the pair.
 

Embryos were then transplanted into the parabiont’s grafted uterus and the female side’s natural uterus. If the embryos took, the pups were delivered via caesarean section after 21 days.
 

The researchers said in the paper that six of the 163 males of the parabionts became pregnant, a success rate of 3.68 per cent.
 

“The success rate of the entire experiment was very low, but 10 pups could still be delivered from male parabionts by caesarean sections and developed into adulthood,” the authors said in the paper.
 

They added that the pups born from the male side developed normally to maturity, and their organs had no obvious abnormalities.
 

The researchers found that the transplanted embryos from the grafted uteruses developed to maturity if they were exposed to blood from the pregnant female.
 

“Only those embryos exposed to pregnant blood from female parabionts may develop normally in male parabionts, suggesting the normal development of embryos in male mammalian animals [relies] on a mechanism that can be induced by pregnant blood exposure rather than female blood exposure,” they said, adding that the mechanism needed further investigation.
 

“Our research reveals the possibility of normal embryonic development in male mammalian animals, and it may have a profound impact on the research of reproductive biology,” the authors said.
 

“To our best knowledge, it has never been reported before that male pregnancy can be achieved in mammalian animals.”
 

Male pregnancy is unique to syngnathidae, a family of fish including pipefish and seahorses.
 

But Ge, from the University of Macau, said the males in the study could not be considered real males because they had been castrated and connected to females. It put them in a female endocrine environment with hormones essential to maintain pregnancy.
 

“The animals they used in the study are actually females although the carriers are a male body. The embryos were obtained from females, developed in transplanted female’s uterus, and supported by female hormones through the connected circulatory systems,” he said.
 

“However, it provides a hope for in vitro pregnancy, which means embryonic development in an artificial chamber serving as uterus outside mother’s body as long as an female endocrine environment is provided.”
 

雄性老鼠怀孕产子引发争议

最近,我国科学家成功地孕育雄性小鼠并成功顺利产下后代,自此打破了自然规律。
 

研究人员表示,他们受到雄性海马孕育的启发,看看胚胎是否可以在“雄性子宫”中进行生存。所以他们选择了一些Lewis大鼠作为研究对象。
 

在实验期间,研究人员将雌性大鼠和雄性大鼠连接在一起,让它们成为连体儿。然后将其他雌性大鼠的子宫移植到连接的雄性大鼠中。最后,研究团队将初始胚胎成为雄性子宫和与雄性大鼠有关的大鼠的原始子宫。
 

而两只小鼠成为配体的原因,它是因为在雄性大鼠中发育胚胎以共享的“妊娠血液”下进行发育。为了提高试验的成功率,研究团队已纳入46对雌性大鼠,将总共562个胚胎移植到雌性体内,将280个胚胎移植到雄性体中。
 

在怀孕21.5天后,研究人员发现,在雌性大鼠的子宫内有169个胚胎事正常状态,而在雄性大鼠的子宫中有27个胚胎正常。
 

最后,经过10个剖腹产,雄性大鼠成功产下10个幼崽,并具有“功能性育种能力”。根据组织学检查,心脏,肺,肝,肾,脑,睾丸,卵巢或子宫没有明显的异常。
 

然而,在雄性大鼠的剖腹产的情况下,研究人员还发现了一些非正常死亡胎儿,这是雌性大鼠胎儿中未出现的现象。这些死亡胎儿因形态和颜色与正常胎儿有差异,它们伴有胎盘萎缩或肿胀。
 

作者在论文中写道:“根据我们的知识,雄性哺乳动物从未报告过怀孕的消息......这个实验可能对生殖生物学产生深远的影响。”

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