Ciba Foundation Symposium Jointly with the Physiological Society and the British Pharmacological Society on Histamine

1957 Postgraduate medical journal  
Progress in research depends as much upon accurate measurement as it does upon keen observation and the evolution of hypotheses to explain natural phenomena. Using the instruments of modem biophysics, it has been possible to assess more accurately some of the physiological phenomena associated with the contraction of heart muscle. These more accurate measurements have yielded new information which promises to make a valuable contribution to our understanding of the excitability of heart muscle
more » ... n the healthy and in the pathological state. The authors have described their experimental methods and their results, which are discussed in relation to those of other workers and in relation to current hypotheses concerning the mechanism of muscle contraction. The effects of changing temperature on the function of various organs are very important in modern surgery. The chapter devoted to the effects of heating and cooling on the physiology of heart muscle should therefore be of interest to the surgeon. The fundamental changes which occur in fibrillation of both the auricle and the ventricle have also been investigated, and the mechanism of action of anti-fibrillatory drugs and procedures is discussed. The book is directed at post-graduate students and all those who have any physiological or clinical interest in the excitability of heart muscle. There is a useful summary at the end of each chapter and a very full bibliography which makes the book an asset in any physiological research or teaching department. The book contains the papers read to the Physio-'logical and Pharmacological Societies at the Wellcome Foundation, and also both papers and discussion of a smaller group at the Ciba Foundation in 1955. Part I of the main meeting is concerned with the occurrence of histamine in the body. The distribution in various tissues, particularly in mast cells, and the form in which histamine occurs is considered in detail. Part II is especially on the mechanism and the types of compounds causing release of histamine: the effect of anaphylaxis is considered here. Part III is'on the origin and significance of histamine in the body. The origin and fate; the effect on gastric secretion and blood vessels; the relation of histamine to nerves, is considered together with skin histamine and histaminare. The second half of the symposium, at the Ciba Foundation, covers much the same field, but certain aspects, especially biochemical, are considered in more detail. There is a wealth of detail and a good bibliography, most of the contributors being pre-eminent in their field. In addition to data there is reasoned speculation. It is striking, however, that with the exception of the probable roles of histamine in gastric secretion and anaphylaxis the physiology of histamine (as opposed to its pharmacology and biochemistry) remains virtually unknown. This collection of papers makes a valuable and useful contribution to the literature on histamine.
doi:10.1136/pgmj.33.382.419-a fatcat:bwbhgbst2faplofl6tmh6w5jwe