Nouvelle fonction du foie, considerée comme organe producteur de matière sucrée chez l’homme et les animaux.

Paris: J.-B. Baillière, 1853.

First edition, monograph issue, of Bernard’s doctoral thesis, a “remarkable exposition of the glycogenic function of the liver” (Horblit – referring to this issue). This is an outstanding presentation copy, inscribed by Bernard to the anatomist Marie Philibert Constant Sappey on the front wrapper: “Monsieur Sappey hommage affectueux de l'auteur Cl. Bernard.” “As much through concrete discoveries as through the creation of new concepts, the work of Claude Bernard constitutes the founding of modern experimental physiology. His scientific career started with two series of precise and well delimited researches: on the one hand, the chemical and physiological study of gastric digestion, and on the other, experimental sections of nerves” (DSB). Bernard’s doctoral thesis on the gastric juice published the first results of his experiments on the artificial ingestion of food substances. It linked two important discoveries: first, that when sucrose (a complex sugar) is injected into the bloodstream, it is eliminated in the urine, while injected glucose (a simple sugar) is retained in the organism; and second, that gastric juice transforms sucrose into physiologically usable sugar; i.e., one that, when injected, is not eliminated. This led to the realization that glucose and the other monosaccharides represent the only physiologically useful sugars in the animal organism, and that gastric juice changes all other forms of carbohydrate into assimilable physiological sugar” (Norman).

Provenance: Bernard inscribed this copy of his thesis to French anatomist Marie Philibert Constant Sappey (1810 – 1896). Sappey studied medicine at the University of Paris, earning his degree in 1843. Later he became a professor of anatomy in Paris, and in 1862 was elected to the Académie Nationale de Médecine, becoming its president in 1887. In 1868 he succeeded Jean-François Jarjavay (1815–1868) as chair of anatomy, a position he held until 1886. Sappey was a highly regarded anatomist remembered for his research of the lymphatic system. In 1874 he published an anatomical atlas that included a detailed study of cutaneous lymphatic drainage. He was married to Antoinette Clotilde Dumas who was a scientific illustrator. She illustrated some of his publications. He devised a procedure to define and delineate the lymphatic system by injecting mercury into the skin of a cadaver in order to properly view the individual lymphatic vessels. Anatomist Henri Rouvière (1876-1952) continued Sappey’s anatomical work of the human lymphatic system.

“Bernard’s most impressive discoveries in the field of digestion proper concern the functions of the pancreas, especially the importance of pancreatic juice in the digestion and absorption of fats. Two observations showed him the road to follow. First, he had noted that the urine of herbivores is alkaline, while that of carnivores is acid. Bernard showed that fasting brought about acidity of the urine in herbivores (they lived off their body fat) and that man and carnivorous animals put on a vegetarian diet excreted alkaline urine (1846). Bernard then applied himself to the comparative study of the phenomena of digestion in both carnivores and herbivores. He initiated experiments by which to follow the changes in the chyle in the various parts of the intestinal tract of a dog and a rabbit. Thereby he noted that the absorption of fat by the chyliferous vessels occurred at a rather considerable distance from the pylorus in the rabbit and immediately at the beginning of the duodenum in the dog. Bernard discovered that this difference coincided with an anatomical difference at the point of discharge of the pancreatic juice into the intestine. Thus the role of the pancreas in the first phase of fat metabolism was demonstrated (“Du sucpancreéatique et de son rôle dans les phénomènes dela digestion,” 1849). In order to collect pancreatic juice in its pure state and to study the regulation of its secretion, Bernard conceived and made the temporary pancreatic fistula, later improved by Pavlov. Bernard found that pancreatic juice acted on fats by a saponification process.

“In studying the digestive properties of the gastric and pancreatic Juices. Bernard did not intend to restrict himself to a narrow view of the problem of local digestion alone, or of the decomposition of food in the gastrointestinal tract. Although he studied intensively the chemical changes in food exposed, both in vivo and in vitro, to saliva, gastric Juice, or pancreatic juice, this was to him only one, fragmentary aspect of a vast research subject. What interested him above all was what happened to the food in the animal organism, from its entry until its total assimilation or excretion. Thus the horizon of Bernard’s research kept widening and, by going beyond the limits of simple “digestion,” it made its true object “nutrition” (or, in modern terminology, “metabolism”).

“Never wavering, Bernard was to advance beyond the then prevailing notions of “animal statics” and to set up the first milestones on the road to the understanding of intermediate metabolism. To begin with, Bernard accepted the theory of his teachers that animals are incapable of synthesizing sugar, fat, and albumin. These three substances would always originate in plants, and their percentage in the blood would vary and would depend essentially on the food consumed. Nutrition would consist of three stages: digestion, transport of digested substances, and chemical in corporation or combustion.

“Then he discovered that the alleged transport of absorbed substances is an extremely complicated process, more chemical than physical, more a series of transformations than a series of displacements. He also understood that nutrition is a phenomenon of synthesis as much as it is an analytical process. If food intake is an intermittent process, “nutrition” (in the sense of metabolism) is continuous and is stopped only by death. “Nutrition” is also indirect: prior to being integrated into the tissues, the organic alimentary substances must be broken down to a certain degree and then recombined. In formulating and demonstrating these ideas, Bernard was able to talk with pride of his work on nutrition: “I am the first one to have studied the intermediary stage. The two extremes were known and the rest was accomplished by means of the physiology of probability.”

“In his thesis on gastric juice (1853), Bernard published, marginally to the principal subject, the first results of his experiments on the ingestion of food substances by other than natural means. His thesis relates two important discoveries: (1) if so-called “type I” sugar (sucrose) is injected directly into the blood, it is eliminated by the kidneys, while the so-called “type 2” sugar (glucose) is retained in the organism; (2) gastric juice transforms sucrose into assimilable sugar, that is, sucrose exposed to the action of gastric juice and then injected into the blood no longer appears in the urine. “Type 2” sugars (in modern terminology, sugars of the monosaccharide group) represent the only “physiological” form of carbohydrates in the animal organism. Gastric juice changes all other forms of carbohydrates into assimilable physiological sugar” (DSB).

“Claude Bernard (1813-78) is regarded as the most important contributor to experimental physiology in the nineteenth century. Born in St. Julien, a village in the wine country of Beaujolais, Bernard's early education was humanistic rather than scientific. He at one time aspired to be a playwright, but when his efforts met with discouragement from the critic Saint Mare-Girardin, he entered the Faculté de Médecine in Paris in 1834. While still a student, Bernard came under the influence of the famous physiologist François Magendie, working as Magendie’s assistant from 1841 to 1844 and learning from him the use of animal vivisection for physiological experimentation. It was under Magendie’s influence that Bernard performed some of his most important researches into the physiology of digestion and nerves.

“Bernard’s contributions are so important and so numerous that it is difficult to select one work to represent them. His major physiological discoveries included the role of the pancreas in digestion, the glycogenic function of the liver, the vasomotor innovation, and the effects of curare on neuromuscular transmission. He also introduced seminal theoretical concepts, such as that of ‘internal secretion,’ and was the author of the landmark medico-philosophical work, Introduction à l'étude de la médecine expérimentale, in which he analyzed the philosophical basis of the scientific method and its application to the study of living beings” (Grolier-Horblit).

Bernard’s doctoral thesis was also issued, by Martinet, probably a few months earlier than the monograph issue, to meet the formal requirements of the degree. The Martinet issue is extremely rare.

Norman 200; Grolier, One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine, 67A; Horblit, One Hundred Books Famous in Science, 11A.

4to (270 x 212 mm) 92, [2]pp. Wood-engraved text illustration. Original gray-green printed wrappers, bound in later fine half black morocco over marbled boards with spine lettering, signed P. Goy & C. Vilaine. A very fine and well preserved copy.

Item #4993

Price: $12,000.00

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