Macht DI, Bloom WM. Effect of Prostatectomy on the Behavior of Albino Rats. J of Urol. 1921;1: 29-41
This article appeared in the 1921 Journal of Urology as part of a series on the "Physiological and Pharmacological Studies of the Prostate Gland." In the introduction, Macht and Bloom describe the impetus for such research:
"The recent advances in our knowledge of internal secretions have caused not only physiologists but also clinicians to be on the lookout for manifestations pointing to a possible derangement in the functions of various glands. To this the prostate gland is no exception."
They describe an observed associated between psychopathic or neuropathic symptoms associated with the internal secretions of the prostate gland and thus embark on a series of animal experiments. In fact, a popular patient series of the time period described a significant number of patients with benign and malignant prostate issues to have melancholia, hallucinations and psychoses. In addition, controversy existed about the influence of prostate surgery on mental health; with many urologists believing that "complete extirpation of the prostate gland has no bearing on the character and mental efficiency of the patients" and, in some cases, may "improve in health of body and mind after prostatic operations."
Even in contemporary times, many urologists and physicians have seen patients extremely affected by their urinary and/or sexual issues (both before and after urological surgery). In fact, "bother" drives most of the treatment algorithms for benign prostatic hypertrophy in modern Urological Association guidelines. As Macht and Bloom elude to, "clinical data are very unreliable" and deciphering if mental disturbances were associated with or caused by prostate issues had not been properly investigated. Therefore, Macht and Bloom endeavored to see if they could alter the "character, mentality and neuromuscular coordination" of animals after their prostate was removed.
The main experiment from this study involves memory testing through a well-established protocol of experimentation with albino rats in a circular maze (figure).
|Circular maze used to test rate of learning, behavior and memory-habit in rats undergoing prostatectomy.|
In total, 28 rats were randomized to prostatectomy or control, and then observed as they learned the maze. Average days to learn the maze in the prostatectomy rats was 8.2 days and 9.9 days in the control rats - a difference that was not statistically different.
These data, along with other minor experiements, led Macht and Bloom to conclude that "endocrine function of the prostate gland bears no relation to the mental efficiency of the animals."
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