Brown-Sequard and 'Rejuvenation' by Testicular Extracts
The impact of Brown-Sequard's 'rejuvenation' was profound. In 1889, when
he made public the results of his self-injections, he was a scientist
of international stature and a member of the prestigious French Academy
of Sciences. Moreover, he was 72 years old, near the end of a distinguished
career that included major contributions to neuroscience and adrenal function.
He was heir apparent to Claude Bernard's chair of medicine at the College
A century later, scientists in Australia attempted to repeat the extraction of male hormones from dog testes, following the methods published by Brown-Sequard in his original work. Testosterone concentrations of the extract were measured by radio-immunoassay. The Australians found that each of the Brown-Sequard injections would have contained only about 100 ng of testosterone, whereas daily testosterone secretion in man is about 6 mg. Further, the testis does not store testosterone, but releases the hormone upon synthesis into the systemic circulation; thus extracts from the testis would not be expected to be particularly rich in testosterone. The authors conclude,
"…the placebo effect can be powerful, even in a highly educated physician (Cussons, Med.J.Aust., 2002)."
Brown-Sequard, C. Note on the effects produced in man by subcutaneous
injections of a liqueid obtained from the testicles of animals (Lancet
2: 105, 1889).