Harvey Cushing's attempt at the first human pituitarytransplantation

Courtney Pendleton, Hasan A. Zaidi, Gustavo Pradilla, Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background. This case study illustrates Harvey Cushing's pioneering work in pituitary transplantation in the early 20th century and the essential relationship between laboratory research and clinical practice. In 1911, a 48 year-old man presented at Johns Hopkins Hospital with bitemporal hemianopsia, hypothermia, hypersomnolence, decreased libido, polydypsia and polyuria.Investigation. A review of the Johns Hopkins Hospital surgical records from 1896-1912 on a patient with hypopituitarism secondary to a suprasellar mass, in whom the first documented pituitary gland transplantation was performed.Diagnosis. A diagnosis of hypopituitarism was made. Postmortem examination revealed a cystic cavity lined with squamous epithelium.Management. The patient was treated with whole-gland pituitary extract, which improved his symptoms only temporarily. Cushing transplanted a pituitary gland obtained from a spontaneously aborted fetus into the cerebral cortex of the patient, who showed marked improvement of his somnolence and confusion, whereas his polyuria and polydypsia persisted. A recurrence of symptoms after 6 weeks prompted Cushing to attempt a second transplant of a fetal pituitary gland, without improvement. The patient resumed hormonal supplementation with whole-gland pituitary extract, but died a month after the second transplant from respiratory complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-52
Number of pages5
JournalNature Reviews Endocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


Dive into the research topics of 'Harvey Cushing's attempt at the first human pituitarytransplantation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this