University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Lower Saxony, Germany
In 1819, Arnold Berthold entered the University of Göttingen and proceeded Doctor of Medicine with a thesis De cauteri actuale seu de igne ut medicamenti, in 1823.
Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
In 1829, Arnold A. Berthold became a member of the Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.
Since 1980, the German Society for Endocrinology presents the Berthold Medal in honor of the scientist.
Berthold, who came from a simple family of artisans, began his medical studies at Göttingen in 1819 and presented his doctoral thesis in 1823. Following custom, he visited various German and foreign universities - including Berlin in 1824 and Paris in 1825 - in order to increase his knowledge of practical medicine and comparative anatomy.
Having qualified as Privatdozent at Göttingen in 1825, Berthold began his lifetime career there. He was named extraordinary professor of medicine in 1835 and ordinary professor the following year. He was also a curator of the zoological collections.
Since Berthold was absorbed in both the practice and the teaching of medicine, he left many and varied published works. As early as 1829 he wrote Lehrbuch der Physiologie des Menschen und der Thiere, which was reissued many times. His monographs, articles, and notes were published in medical, scientific, and even literary periodicals. A piece of research done with Bunsen (1834) led to the discovery of hydrated iron oxide as an antidote for arsenic poisoning. Some of his other works dealt with myopia, the length of pregnancy, male hermaphroditism, and the formation of fingernails and hair. His short work commemorating Goethe’s centennial in 1849 was one of the first German publications to do justice to Goethe as a naturalist.
In 1849 Berthold published "Transplantation der Hoden," a four-page article that in its conciseness was a model for experimental investigation. It is the report of the experiments he performed on six cockerels, using each pair for the removal and transplantation of the testicles. The most remarkable result was the successful grafting of testicles from one cockerel into the abdominal cavity of another, with the cockerel receiving the transplant retaining the secondary sexual characteristics of crowing and combativeness. This article completely escaped notice at the time and remained in oblivion until 1910, when Biedl, in his Innere Sekretion, demonstrated that Berthold should be considered the first scientist to have shown by experimental means the correlation of a gland with the milieu intérieur of an organism (in reality, as early as 1905 Nussbaum had analyzed and evaluated Berthold’s experiments before reproducing them on batrachians). Since then, all historical accounts have considered Berthold as one of the founders of endocrinology. In reality, he was a forerunner without an immediate successor.
Berthold’s article was translated into English and commented upon by Rush (1929), Quiring (1944), and Forbes (1949), who speculated upon the origin of this particular experiment. From a study of the text, it is apparent that Berthold was preoccupied with the trophic nerves.
Berthold also was the author of an important, comprehensive study of sexual characteristics in Wagner’s Handwörterbuch, a reference book highly regarded at the time and still of great interest in the history of biology.
Arnold A. Berthold died on January 3, 1861, at Göttingen, Lower Saxony, Germany.
Experimental endocrinology began when, in 1849, Arnold Adolph Berthold succeeded in transplanting testes into castrated cockerels. He thus prevented them from becoming capons and, on the basis of these experiments, postulated an endocrine function of the testes. Transplantations were to become the classical experiments by which to demonstrate internal secretion, leading ﬁnally to the isolation and identiﬁcation of the responsible hormones from tissue and venous blood of endocrine organs.