« PreviousContinue »
turbid on the addition of diluted acetic acid ; this reagent, however, threw down a distinct precipitate from the saccharine solution.
January 5, 1856 (from note-book).—“The mucous membrane infused in simple water is today looking disintegrated, in layers, the solution opake and slimy; slightly alkaline, just bitter. The mucous membrane in sugar very bitter, perfectly transparent. I believe that the difference of the mucous membrane, as infused in water and in syrup, appears to be well established.”
January 9.-—“The sugar solution is perfectly transparent, very bitter, very slightly alkaline; the membrane is much swelled out and thickened; fresh. The watery solution is becoming decomposed, alkaline, has lost its bitter taste, very turbid; the membrane is shrivelled and separating into layers. Microscopic examination referred the turbidness to broken-down epithelium.”
The report of the above series of experiments has been thus minutely transcribed, because it seems to place the active agency of the mucous membrane beyond reasonable doubt, so far as the class of bodies alluded to is concerned; but principally because, as will be seen in the sequel, Pettenkofer's method alone appears to fail in some cases as a discriminating test of the bile.
Action of the Mucous Membrane of the Gall-bladder upon Albumen.
January 27.—“At 3 P.m. took a portion of dry mucous membrane and carefully washed it in several waters ; it was then plunged into the white of an egg. 8 P.M. the glairy fluid is bitter.”
January 31.—“The solution apparently increasing in bitterness ; a little water added to supply the loss by evaporation."
February 18.-" The albumen solution has from time to time been diluted with water. Today I can barely detect bitterness, nor is the colour changed. On applying Pettenkofer's test, the play of colour, supposed to be characteristic of bile, was very distinct in the fluid portion; the albumen coagulated by the heat, retaining its white colour.”
This result was perplexing; on the 19th, therefore, an experiment was made on the white of an egg, per se, to ascertain whether the effect was due to the albumen. The white of an egg was first boiled in water, to coagulate the albumen, and the filtered fluid, containing soluble albumen and probably other organic matters, was examined by Pettenkofer's method. On adding strong sulphuric acid the fluid underwent further coagulation, and the liquid portion became of a beautiful rose colour. It remains to be determined whether the white of the egg contains any of the elements of the bile, or whether Pettenkofer's method fails, as a discriminating test of the bile, in the presence of soluble albumen.
Having thus established the fact that the mucous membrane of the gall-bladder is capable of producing changes on the bodies and under the circumstances above stated, it became an important object of inquiry whether the hepatic fluid proper is capable of being influenced by its contact ; but how are we to isolate this secretion ? If we take a portion of ox-liver, bruise it down, express the fluid, doubtless containing a large proportion of liver-bile, and place this fluid under an exhausted receiver over sulphuric acid, if in sufficient quantity for examination, it will be decomposed before evaporation is completed. The same fluid undergoes changes also very rapidly at a slightly elevated temperature. It was found in fact that from the temperature of 34° C. to about 60° C. putrefaction is easily produced in ox-liver, whereas, if plunged into water at the boilingpoint, no considerable changes of a putrefactive nature occurred. Supposing then we plunge a very thin slice of liver into boiling water, we at once coagulate the albumen, or rather such portion of it as is insoluble in boiling water; we break up the hepatic vessels and obtain a fluid containing a considerable quantity of hepatic bile. It was found better not to keep up the boiling for any lengthened time, as the solution, in that case, contains much soluble albumen. The liquid then having been allowed to boil for a few minutes, was removed from the fire and strained through a cloth; the turbid solution cooled as rapidly as possible; the upper portion poured off from the deposit, and thus experimented upon.
Diluted acetic acid caused no precipitate, nor was any perceptible reaction produced by Pettenkofer's method, which would seem to indicate that the reaction observed in the white of the egg was not occasioned by the presence of albumen. .
December 21, 1855.—As in the previous cases, a portion of wellwashed mucous membrane was covered with the above solution and exposed to a temperature of 38° C., 39° C. being considered as the maximum temperature of the ox. In half an hour, on applying
Pettenkofer's test, the characteristic colour was beautifully developed.
December 22.—The solution last alluded to was this morning distinctly yellow, very bitter, and formed a precipitate with diluted acetic acid. A musky odour is also perceptible.
On the 21st of December another portion of membrane was covered with the liver-broth and left at the ordinary temperature of the room in which the operation was conducted, 10° C. After thirty hours' digestion, the fluid was in the slightest degree bitter; it was then exposed to a temperature of 50° C. Three hours having elapsed, it was again examined and found decidedly bitter.
December 23.—Cursorily examined the fluid at 4 P.M.; it is noted down as intensely bitter, becoming yellow, with slight musky odour.
December 24.- The solution, just undergoing metamorphosis on December 21st, was this day found as yellow as a diluted solution of ox-gall, musky odour distinct, intensely bitter. Another remarkable feature in common with ox-gall as it is separated from the bladder was now developed : on pouring it into a glass for precipitation with acetic acid, it was found glairy, and instead of running off like water as it did originally, the drops were viscid like a solution of gumarabic. The bitter taste was now also converted into a sweetishbitter, identical with the organic matter in ox-bile. The solution gave a dense precipitate with diluted acetic acid, and the peculiar reaction of Pettenkofer's test was most satisfactorily exhibited. It may not be considered unimportant to mention, that, on repeating these experiments a few days ago, a portion of the solution, treated as above, was placed in the hands of a bystander wholly ignorant of the matter, with a request to smell without looking at it; the report was, “ You are mixing up some indian ink;" indeed, the odour of musk seems to be one of the most important conjunctive indications of the presence of bile, after a few hours' exposure to atmospheric air.
Many more experiments are registered in the author's rough notes; some of these have been repeated within the last few days, all with confirmatory results ; the following generalizations therefore appear legitimately deduced from the research :
1st, That the mucus of the gall-bladder is not merely a secretion destined to lubricate the interior of that organ and protect it from the irritation of its other contents, but is an essential integral portion of the cystic bile.
2ndly, That the gall-bladder is not merely a receptacle and reservoir for the bile, but an organ highly endowed with organic functions; and that the proper secretion of the liver is converted into cystic bile mainly through the agency of its mucous membrane.
In thus breaking up the surface of an interesting field of research, the writer is fully aware that a great amount of labour must still be expended upon its development; he would also be understood to regard these experiments merely as expressing the results of nonvital reactions. We can hardly indeed doubt that, under the influence of vitality, acting through the medium of that most important department of the nervous system, the solar plexus, molecular changes, not improbably analogous to or identical with those which we have described, may be carried on with an energy and efficiency which we cannot hope to witness in the laboratory. Professor Clark, of Cambridge, has already suggested the extension of the research to the case of animals which have no gall-bladder, and in which the hepatic secretion is at once poured into the duodenum, to take its part in the process of assimilation. The conjecture may not be far from the truth, that the mucous lining of the intestinal canal, the parotid gland, the pancreas, the kidney, the urinary bladder, has each its specific predestined function to perform ; and that in working out the subject, we may fall upon many a useful fact, many a beautiful analogy, and much to supply the wants and alleviate the sufferings
Thursday the 29th of May having been set apart for the celebration of the Peace, the President announced that the
ordinary meeting of the Society would be held on Thursday, the 12th of June,
June 3, 1856.
The LORD WROTTESLEY, President, in the Chair.
A Special General Meeting was held this day, to consider a proposal from Her Majesty's Government to give apartments to the Society in Burlington House, contained in the following letter :
Treasury Chambers, 22nd May, 1856. My LORD, I am directed by the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury to acquaint your Lordship, with reference to the views set forth in your Letter to the Duke of Argyll of the 30th ult., which has been laid before this Board, that Her Majesty's Government are not at present in a position to enable them to state any definite views with respect to the project for the juxtaposition of the principal Scientific Societies in a building to be erected in a convenient and central locality.
I have to state that their Lordships are however prepared so far to concede to the views advanced by your Lordship on behalf of a large number of persops connected with science, as to allow the temporary location of the Linnean and Chemical Societies, in conjunction with the Royal Society, in the present building of Burlington House, on the following conditions, viz.
1. That the removal of the Royal Society froin Somerset House shall not prejudice the position of the other Societies located in that building, in regard to the terms on which they are permitted to occupy their present apartments.
2. That the Royal Society shall be put in possession of the main building of Burlington House, on the understanding that they will, in communication with the Linnean and Chemical Societies, assign suitable accommodation therein for those bodies.
3. A common Library to be formed for the use of the three Societies, on the understanding that suitable arrangements shall be made