Exciting News from the Messenger

Author(s): Kenneth Maiese.

Journal Name: Current Neurovascular Research

Volume 4 , Issue 3 , 2007

Abstract:

“These chemical messengers, however, or hormones (from [the Greek word] I excite or arouse), as we might call them, have to be carried from the organ where they are produced to the organ which they affect by means of the blood stream and the continually recurring physiological needs of the organism must determine their repeated production and circulation throughout the body.” As part of his second Croonian lecture to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1905 entitled “The chemical control of the functions of the body”, Ernest Starling surprisingly introduces the term “hormones” to describe chemicals that can be set into action in the blood stream to elicit activity in different organs of the body. The selection of the term “hormone” by Starling is not entirely clear, but may have developed in conversations with William Hardy and the Greek poet scholar W. T. Vesey to use the Greek verb “ormao” for “arouse” or “excite”. Yet, despite the absence, or at least the minimal use of the term “hormone” in the scientific arena prior to this point, early work during the mid-nineteenth century, such as by Claude Bernard, depicted processes responsible for internal secretion of chemicals as described with the release of glucose from glycogen in the liver. During this period, other pioneers such as Arnold Adolphe Berthold spoke of the interaction and communication between the different organs in the body. As these concepts became more accepted, physicians later in the nineteenth century reported the use of extracts of animal thyroid, pancreas, and even adrenal glands to treat patients suspected of suffering from the loss of circulating chemicals. By the early twentieth century, Starling and William Bayliss demonstrated that the duodenum, when stimulated with acid through local application, could lead to pancreatic secretion. They furthered these results by illustrating that duodenal extracts injected into the blood stream in animals also resulted in pancreatic secretion. From these studies, Starling and Bayliss suggested that the agent released from the duodenum should be termed “secretin”. The Nobel Laureate Pavlov was initially impressed with these results that had suggested the presence of several mechanisms in the control of the digestive system, but later stood firm to promote his personal concepts that pancreatic secretion and the organs of the gut were controlled principally by innervation of the nervous system during his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in 1904. Politics aside, investigations since the work of early pioneers in endocrinology and the study of hormones have fostered the development of numerous fields that involve vascular biology, neuroscience, physiology, genetics, metabolomics, development, cancer, and molecular medicine. Clinically, the advances from these fields that rely upon the understanding of the chemistry of hormones have resulted in remarkable strides for treatment protocols that involve the care and management of diabetes, the replenishment of hormone deficiencies with recombinant proteins that eliminate potential toxicity from the use of animal or human sources, and the success of fertility treatments that utilize in vitro fertilization. Furthermore, our progressive knowledge of the cellular and molecular processes that involve hormones have alerted us to the intimate relationship we hold with the environment and its accumulation of synthetic chemicals that can ultimately be detrimental to the endocrine system of both animals and humans. This issue of Current Neurovascular Research highlights the complexity of hormones and the cellular pathways they govern that ultimately regulate clinical health and disease. Ahmadi et al. provides exciting evidence that administration of a bone marrow cell population containing multipotent stem cells is not only non-toxic in patients who have suffered myocardial infarction, but also may result in clinical cardiac improvement with potential myogenesis and angiogenesis. However, hormonal systems may not always be beneficial during illness as illustrated by Makikallio et al. In their paper, they examined the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in patients suffering from ischemic stroke over time and report that elevated cortisol and natriuretic peptide levels may be detrimental to the eventual recovery from stroke, suggesting that targeting this hormone system may offer treatment for acute cerebral ischemia.....

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Article Details

VOLUME: 4
ISSUE: 3
Year: 2007
Page: [152 - 152]
Pages: 1
DOI: 10.2174/156720207781387196
Price: $58