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Houssay's phenomenon

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Spontaneous remission of diabetes mellitus – «vanishing diabetes» – by a destructive lesion in, or surgical removal of, the anterior pituitary gland. This is the clinical counterpart of the posthypophysectomy remission of diabetes mellitus in pancreatomised animals, observed during experiments by Houssay and Biasotti.

This is reallyu two entities:
Houssay phenomenon: Amelioration of diabetes mellitus following ablation of the pituitary.
Houssay syndrome: Improvement of the diabetic state in patients following pathological disease of the pituitary, causing hypopituitarism, usually due to a vascular or infiltrate cause (tuberculosis or sarcoidosis).

The phenomenon was first described in humans by the Hungarian neuropathologist Jósef Baló (1896–) in 1924, and R. M. Calder in 1932.


  • J. Baló:
    Über Nekrosen des Hypophysenvorderlappens und ihre Folgen.
    Beiträge zur pathologischen Anatomie und zur allgemeinen Pathologie, Stuttgart, 1924, 72: 599.
  • R. M. Calder:
    Pituitary cachexie (Simmond’s disease) treated with anterior pituitary extract.
    Journal of the American Medical Association, Chicago, 1932, 98: 314.
  • B. A. Houssay, A. Biasotti:
    La diabetes pancreática de los porros hipofisoprivos.
    Revista de la Sociedad Argentina de biologia, Buenos Aires, 1930, 6: 251-296.
    Houssay's depancreatised and hypophysectomised dog. This work led to Houssay's demonstration of the importance of the anterior pituitary in sugar metabolism for which he shared the Nobel Prize in 1947.
  • B. A. Houssay, A. Biasotti:
    Pankreasdiabetes und Hypophyse beim Hund.
    [Pflügers] Archiv für die gesamte Physiologie des Menschen und der Tiere, Berlin, 1931, 227: 664.
  • B. A. Houssay:
    The hypophysis and metabolism.
    The New England Journal of Medicine, Boston, 1936, 214: 961-971.

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