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J Hist Neurosci. 2002 Mar;11(1):2-10.

Magendie and the chemists: the earliest chemical analyses of the cerebrospinal fluid.

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  • 1Departments of Psychiatry, Biochemistry, and Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University, 1033 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Canada. theodore.sourkes@mcgill.ca

Abstract

Having described the spinal fluid, Fran├žois Magendie (1783-1855) called upon a number of chemists in Paris to analyze the material, in the effort to decide if it was a special secretion of the nervous system or simply a filtrate of the blood. J.L. Lassaigne (1800-1859) and J.P. Couerbe (1805-1867) responded. Their results, and those of some earlier investigators, are described. In the ensuing years of the nineteenth century, other investigators similarly conducted analyses of spinal fluid, but these were usually of single constituents in poorly defined diagnostic conditions. In 1909-1912, William Mestrezat (1883-1928) took advantage of the recently introduced technique of lumbar puncture, which by now had become hospital routine, and introduced the modern era of systematic analysis of many components of the spinal fluid, correlated with specific disease states.

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