Book - Human fetal endocrines (1980)

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Jirásek JE. Human fetal endocrines. (1980) Martinus Nijhoff Publishers BV, The Hague. Springer

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This 1980 textbook by Jirásek describes human endocrine development as understood in the 1980's. This page currently includes only a brief extract from the full book, available in PDF format here.

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Endocrine Links: Introduction | BGD Lecture | Science Lecture | Lecture Movie | pineal | hypothalamus‎ | pituitary | thyroid | parathyroid | thymus | pancreas | adrenal | endocrine gonad‎ | endocrine placenta | other tissues | Stage 22 | endocrine abnormalities | Hormones | Category:Endocrine
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1903 Islets of Langerhans | 1903 Pig Adrenal | 1904 interstitial Cells | 1908 Pancreas Different Species | 1908 Pituitary | 1908 Pituitary histology | 1911 Rathke's pouch | 1912 Suprarenal Bodies | 1914 Suprarenal Organs | 1915 Pharynx | 1916 Thyroid | 1918 Rabbit Hypophysis | 1920 Adrenal | 1935 Mammalian Hypophysis | 1926 Human Hypophysis | 1927 Adrenal | 1927 Hypophyseal fossa | 1930 Adrenal | 1932 Pineal Gland and Cysts | 1935 Hypophysis | 1935 Pineal | 1937 Pineal | 1935 Parathyroid | 1940 Adrenal | 1941 Thyroid | 1950 Thyroid Parathyroid Thymus | 1957 Adrenal
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Human Fetal Endocrines

Jan E. Jirásek, M. D., D. Sc.

Institute für the Care üf Müther and Child, Prague


The study of prenatal development provides many clues for understanding the physiology as well as the pathogeny of malformations and many diseases. I became interested in the analysis of human development as a young medical student more than 30 years ago, and I have stayed in this field all my life. In my studies, I always tried to compare the events of different disciplines such as genetics, anatomy, biochemistry and physiology. I learned that the development of a structure is, under normal circumstances, strictly determined and that the development of structures always precedes their proper function. There are no changes in function without changes in structure. The life of every cell is genetically preprogrammed and the program may be modified by complicated interactions with environment. Recent progress in our knowledge is basicly related to technology. However, using all the tools of today’s technology, we are still unable to understand the basic normal development.

After almost thirty years of work, I am trying to present a subjective review of the development of the human endocrine glands. I am presenting an image emerging from my experience. I personally studied several hundred human embryos using mostly anatomical, histochemical and some biochemical techniques. I found much additional information in the literature. However, there is so much different information available today that, using the limited brain capacity, I did not try to register all observations and discoveries, but I selected some which seemed to me to be the most important. The following books were the valuable sources of my information:

In embryology:

Keibel F. and Mall FP. Manual of Human Embryology I. (1910) J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

Keibel F. and Mall FP. Manual of Human Embryology II. (1912) J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

Streeter GL. Developmental horizons in human embryos. Description of age groups XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, and XXIII, being the fifth issue of a survey of the Carnegie Collection (prepared for publication by Heuser CH. and Corner GW.). (1951) Carnegie Instn. Wash. Publ. 592, Contrib. Embryol., 34: 165-196.

O'Rahilly R. Developmental stages in human embryos, including a survey of the Carnegie Collection. (1973) Carnegie Inst., Washington.

Streeter G. L.: Developmental horizons in human embryos. Contrib. Embryol. Carnegie Inst., Washington, 1951.

O'Rahilly R. and Boyden EA. The timing and sequence of events in the development of the human respiratory system during the embryonic period proper. (1973) Z. Anat. Entw., 141: 237-250. O’Rahilly R.: Developmental stages in human embryos, including a survey of the Carnegie Collection. Carnegie Inst., Washington, 1973.

Willis R. A.: The borderland of embryology and pathology. London, Butterworth, 1958.

Book Review

Book Review by F. De Prins 
European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology

Human Fetal Endocrines by J.E. Jirasek Martinus Nijhoff Publishers BV, The Hague, 1980 Dfl. 82.00

(224 pp.)

‘Human fetal endocrines’ by Jan E. Jirasek concerns the embryonic development, the histology, the pathologic anatomy and the function of the endocrine glands during fetal life. It is interesting to find in one book current knowledge on items so diverse as placental HCG secretion and fetal parathyroid regulation of calcium levels in plasma.

However, this book is disfigured by many shortcomings. It looks as if there were a competition between the number of grammatical mistakes and the number of misprints. The lay-out of the. book is very poor and old fashioned. The table of contents refers to some 60 items on one page and covers 5 pages of very small print. Figures and photographs are included without mentioning the origin.

As for the contents, the title of this book misleads the potential reader. This is not a textbook on fetal endocrinology, it is a textbook on embryonic and fetal morphology. Eighty percent of the work is devoted to embryology, phylogenesis, histology, pathologic anatomy and comparative anatomy. There is only one figure of the chemical structure of a hormone but there are almost 100 pictures of histologic sections of fetal organs. Over 100 pages deal with the production of steroid hormones but the steroid molecule structure will be looked for in vain in this book. The histologic subdivision of molar disease, covering 4 pages, has nothing to do with fetal endocrinology. Moreover, it is no longer of clinical value and it has long been replaced by the follow-up of HCG f-subunit concentrations in plasma both as a criterion for prognosis and as a guide for therapy.

The hypothesis on the onset of labor by the distension of the amnion by accumulation of amniotic fluid may be original but it does not explain the earlier onset of labor in cases of intrauterine growth retardation where the amount of amniotic fluid usually is reduced. Neither does it explain the onset of labor in cases of Potter’s syndrome or in cases of urethral stenosis.

The chapter on the fetal endocrine pancreas is not up-to-date. De-cells are not considered to be heterogenous anymore. The presence of gastrin producing cells has been questioned. The author claims that epinephrine and norepinephrine stimulate insulin secretion although in the next paragraph he claims epinephrine and norepinephrine inhibit insulin secretion. The positive correlation between amniotic insulin levels and fetal age or fetal weight, mentioned by the author, has been disproved in more recent work.

It is not clear for whom this book is written. It is too specialized for medical students, it is of no use for medical practitioners and it does not offer anything new for scientific workers.

F. De Prins, Leuven

Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2021, November 29) Embryology Book - Human fetal endocrines (1980). Retrieved from

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