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World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 226–234 | Cite as

The pivotal role of John S. Edkins in the discovery of gastrin

  • Irvin M. Modlin
  • Mark Kidd
  • I. N. Marks
  • Laura H. Tang
Endocrine History

Abstract

John Sydney Edkins was born in London in 1863. After gaining two open scholarships, he attended Caius College, Cambridge and studied physiology under the tutelage of J.N. Langley and M. Foster. During this period he published on the chemical nature of pepsinogen with Langley. After qualifying as a medical doctor, he worked in Manchester before returning to London, where he succeeded E. Klein as Head of Physiology at St. Bartholomew’s. For financial reasons he also worked part time at Bedford College for Women. In 1902 Bayliss and Starling overturned Pavlov’s doctrine of the nervous regulation of gastrointestinal function by discovering the pancreatic secretagogue secretin—the first identifiable chemical messenger. Edkins applied a similar rationale to the stomach and in a classic series of experiments noted that injection of a pyloric mucous membrane extract resulted in gastric acid and pepsin secretion in anesthetized cats. In 1905 he named this putative active agent “gastrin.” Although his ideas were initially accepted, the discovery of histamine in 1910 and the identification that extracts from other tissues had a similar physiologic effect raised serious questions regarding the validity of the existence of gastrin. Somewhat discouraged, Edkins pursued the teaching and training of women physiologists at Bedford College, where he later became Chairman of Physiology. Outside of science he successfully pursued other interests and became President of the British Croquet Association. The demonstration that gastrin was a unique antrat stimulant of acid secretion by Komarov in 1938 was followed by the purification and elucidation of its chemical structure by Gregory and Tracy in 1964. Their work allowed final validation of Edkins’ original hypothesis. Edkins died in London in 1940, not only fated to predecease the vindication of his hypothesis but unable to witness the evolution of his discovery into a paradigm for the hormonal regulation of secretory and proliferative cellular activity.

Keywords

Histamine Secretin Gastric Secretion Pepsin Secretion Gastric Inhibitory Peptide 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Résumé

John Sydney Edkins est né en 1863 à Londres. Aprés avoir obtenu deux bourses, il étudie à Cauis College, Cambridge et apprend la physiologie sous les auspices de JN Langley et M Foster. Pendant cette période, il publie sur la nature chimique du pepsinogène avec Langley. Après s’être qualifié comme médecin, il travaille à Manchester avant de retourner à Londres, où il succède à E Klein à la tête du Physiology Department de l’Hôpital St Bartholomew. Pour des besoins d’argent, il travaille à temps partiel au collège féminin de Bedford. En 1902, W Bayliss et E Starling renverse la doctrine de Pavlov sur la régulation nerveuse de la fonction gastro-intestinale en découvrant l’hormone sécrétagogue la sécr-étine. Le premier messager chimique identifié! Edkins applique un raisonnement similaire à l’estomac et dans une séries d’expérimentations classiques, note que l’injection d’un extrait de la muqueuse du pylore provoquait une sécrétion de l’acide gastrique et de la pepsine chez le chat anesthésié. En 1905, il nomme cet agent «gastrine». Bien que ces idées soient acceptées au début, la découverte plus tard, en 1910, de l’histamine, ainsi que la découverte que d’autres extraits tissulaires avaient des eifets physiologiques similaires ont soulevé de sérieux doutes sur l’existence de la gastrine. Un peu découragé, Edkins poursuit son rôle d’enseignant et continue à former des femmes physiologistes à Bedford où il devient Chef du Département. En dehors de la physiologie, il avait d’autres occupations et il a été Président du British Croquet Association. La démonstration que la gastrine était l’unique stimulant de la sécrétion acide par Kamarov en 1938 a été suivie par la purification et l’identification de sa structure chimique par R Gregory et IIJ Tracy en 1964. Ceci permet la validation de l’hypothèse d’Edkins. Edkins meurt en 1940 è Londres, non seulement avant de voir la preuve de son hypothèse mais aussi avant de voir que sa découverte était devenue l’exemple même de la régulation hormonale de l’activité sécrétoire et proliférative cellulaire.

Resumen

John Sydney Edkins nació en Londres en 1863. Luego de ganar dos becas, Edkins ingresó al Cauis College, de la Universidad de Cambridge y estudió fisiología bajo la tutoría de J.N. Langley y M. Foster. Durante este período hizo publicaciones sobre la naturaleza química del pepsinógeno, en companñía de Langley. Luego de completar sus estudios de medicina, trabajó en Manchester antes de retornar a Londres, donde sucedió a E. Klein como Jefe de Fisiología en el St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. Además, por razones financieras, trabajó parte de su tiempo en el Bedford College para mujeres. En 1902, W. Bayliss y E. Starling demolieron la doctrina de I.V. Pavlov sobre la regulatión nerviosa de la función gastrointestinal con el descubrimiento del secretagogo pancreático, la secretina, el primer mensajero químico identificable!. Ed Kins aplicó un razonamiento similar al estómago y en una serie clásica de experimentos observó que la inyección de un extracto de la membrana mucosa del píloro resultaba en la secreción gástrica de ácido y de pepsina en gatos anestesiados. En 1905 denominó “gastrina” a este agente putativamente activo. A unuque sus ideas fueron aceptadas inicialmente, el descubri-miento de la histamina en 1910 y la demostración de que extractos de otros tejidos tenían un efecto fisiológico similar crearon serios interrogantes en cuanto a la validez de la existencia de la gastrina. Algo descorazonado, Edkins se dedicó a la enseñanza y adiestra-miento de mujeres fisiólogas en el Bedford College, fue designado Jefe de Fisiología. Tuvo otros intereses por fuera de la ciencia y llegó a ser Presidente de la Asociación Británica de Hockey. La demostración de que la gastrina era un estimulante antral de la secreción ácida por Komarov en 1938 fue seguida de la purificación y elucidación de su estructura química por R. Gregory y H.J. Tracy en 1964. Ello significó la validación final de la hipótesis original de Edkins. Edkins murió en Londres en 1940, no solo predestinado a ver la vindicatión de su hipótesis, sino incapaz de ver la evolución de su descubrimiento en un paradigma de la regulación hormonal de la actividad celular secretoria y proliferativa.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irvin M. Modlin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mark Kidd
    • 1
    • 2
  • I. N. Marks
    • 3
  • Laura H. Tang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Gastric Surgical Pathobiology Research Group, Department of SurgeryYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.West Haven Veteran’s Administration Medical CenterWest HavenUSA
  3. 3.Gastrointestinal ClinicUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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