Part 6: Quotation From Nobel Presentation


The following quotation is lifted from his Nobel presentation:

“We felt that the ability of catecholamines to yield fluorescent conversion products might be useful for their visualization in the microscope. We first tried a modification of the trihydroxyindole method (Carlsson et al., 1961). It worked beautifully for the adrenal medulla but not in other tissues. Hillarp then turned to another reaction that had been used for the quantitative assay of indoleamines, using formaldehyde as a reagent. Together with his skillful research assistant, the late Georg Thieme, he worked out a model system, in which they managed to optimize the reaction conditions. (These experiments were reported by Falck et al., 1962). Subsequently,together with his former student Bengt Falck, Hillarp used air-dried preparations of iris and mesenterium, and discovered that the reaction worked beautifully, thus permitting the visualization of noradrenaline in adrenergic nerves and serotonin in mast cells in the fluorescence microscope”.

His Nobel lecture is published:
Carlsson A.: A Half-Century of Neurotransmitter Research: Impact on Neurology and Psychiatry (Nobel Lecture) Chembiochem. 2001 Aug 3;2(7-8):484-93 (Arvid Carlsson’s Nobel Lecture) with all the relevant references of the topic except the definitely first report on the Falck-Hillarp method. He is compelled to suppress its existence because it represents an undeniable proof that his very different and distorted historical account (Carlsson’s official note 1965) of 1965 is a myth.

The absurdity in this statement is that he – Carlsson – contradicts his friend/research associate Nils-Åke Hillarp, and, astoundingly, also himself. (Hillarp’s expert opinion 1963, p 20).

In 1962 I applied for a position as research assistant. The medical faculty of Lund asked Arvid Carlsson for an evaluation of my merits (Arvid Carlsson, Expert statement). In his report, Carlsson writes about my activities concerning the histochemistry (actually: the fluorescense method!) as follows:

“Research within the last few years have made it increasingly clear that adrenergic mechanisms play a critical role in nearly all organ systems. In elucidating these mechanisms, our uncertainty and in many instances complete ignorance of the intracellular localization has been an important obstacle. This pertains primarily to the central nervous system. Despite extensive efforts, it has hit her to not been possible to create sufficiently sensitive methods to enable direct, e.g. histochemical, demonstration of monoamines at the cellular level.

Falck, together with his coworker A. Torp, have invested extensive efforts to elucidate the histochemistry of chatecholamines. Their first important result was the demonstration of a new type of chromaffin cell, capable of storing dopamine.

But what is far more important is that — largely because of Falck´s technical ability and scientific imagination — it has been possible to elaborate extremely sensitive fluorescense-microscopic techniques aiming at histochemical demonstration of catecholamines and 5-hydroxytryptamine.

One of these methods has enabled Falck and Torp — as the very first — to demonstrate that the transmitter of adrenergic nerves, noradrenalin, is accumulated in the nerve terminal — a result that, according to professor U. von Euler, is one of the most important advances within this field during the past twenty years.

Not least important is that it is now possible, without difficulty, to demonstrate and study the adrenergic innervation mechanisms in all tissues of the body. This must be characterized as no less than revolutionary.”

This describes all of our work that he, Arvid Carlsson, three years later claims to be the result of only a one-day’s-worth of work (Carlsson’s official note 1965).

The story continues… Part 7: In Addition…