Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published in J. Anim. Sci. 1994. 72:2943-2947. Copyright © 1994 American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


This study assessed the genetic relationship between litter size and serum cholesterol concentration and between litter size and testis mass in mice. Mice were from a long-term experiment in which selection had occurred for 21 generations in three replicated lines per criterion of selection (LS = selection to increase litter size based on number born; LC = unselected control). Thereafter, random mating within lines was practiced. Serum cholesterol concentrations were evaluated in female and male mice from two replicates at Generation 29 and one replicate at Generation 30. Body weights and blood samples were collected from primiparous females 8 d after weaning their pups. Data from males were collected as they came out of breeding cages. In addition, the testes were excised, stripped clean of connective tissue and the epididymides, and weighed. Means for body mass of females and males, serum cholesterol, number born, and testis mass were as follows: 35.2 vs 32.5 g ( P < .09), 33.9 vs 30.7 g ( P < .08), 117.5 vs 110.5 mg/dL ( P < .08), 14.0 vs 10.3 pups (P < .04), and 126 vs 122 mg, respectively, for LS and LC. Serum cholesterol was greater in males than in females (133.3 vs 95.1 mg/dL; P < .001), but there was no interaction between sex and selection criterion. Serum cholesterol concentration was not correlated phenotypically to number born or body mass, but it had a small negative relationship with testis mass. Therefore, we concluded that selection for litter size tended to increase serum cholesterol in addition to the increase in number born but did not change testis mass.