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Hermann Blaschko

By Joseph Knoll

Hermann (Hugh) Felix Blaschko was born January 4, 1900 in Berlin, Germany, and received his medical degreee, in 1922, from the University of Berlin. Subsequently he worked at the Medical Clinic of the University Hospital in Gottingen, before embarking on a research career, in 1925, in Otto Meyerhof’s laboratory in Berlin (Born and Banks 1962).   

In 1933, Blaschko moved from Gemany to England and on the encouragement of Professor Joseph Barcroft, began with his studies on adrenaline metabolism at the Institute of Physiology in Cambridge. This led to his discovery that it was the the same enzyme, he referred to as amine oxidase, and not substrate specific enzymes, as many believed at the time, which metabolized tyramine, dopamine, noradrenaline, adrenaline, and aliphatic amines, in general (Blaschko, Richter and Schlossman 1937a; Hare 1928). They also demonstrated the presence of the enzyme in the liver (Blaschko, Richter and Schlossman 1937b). In 1938, after Zeller’s separation of diamine oxidase, from amine oxidase, the name of Blaschko’s enzyme was changed to monoamine oxidase to indicate that its function is restricted to the oxidative deamination of monoamines. Extending his research from the metabolism of adrenaline to the synthesis of catecholamines, in 1939, Blaschko described l–DOPA decarboxylase and discovered that it is the enzyme involved in the decarboxylation of levodopa to dopamine. Furthermore, by the mid-1940s, Blaschko recognized that tyrosine converts into levodopa,  levodopa into dopamine,  dopamine into noradrenaline and noradrenaline into adrenaline (Blascho 1952).

In 1943, Blaschko moved from Barcroft’s Institute of Physiology, in Cambridge, to J.H. Burns’ Department of Pharmacology, in Oxford. He continued his research with adrenaline and catecholamines, and about 10 years later, in 1953, he demonstrated that adrenaline is stored in cytoplasmic particles in vesicles, localized in the membrane of cells which produce it, in the adrenal medulla (Blaschko and Welch 1953).  He also recognized that in case of need, adrenaline is driven out from its storage vesicles by an inner force, referred to as “exocytosis” (Blaschko and Muscholl 1972).

In 1962, in recognition of his contributions, Hermann Blaschko was elected a Fellow of the British Royal Society (FRS). On April 18, 1993, at age 93, Blaschko died, in Oxford. 


Blaschko H. The specific action of l-dopa decarboxylase. Journal of Physiology 1939; 96:50-1.

Blaschko H. Amine oxidase and amine metabolism. Pharmacol Rev 1952; 28: 415-53.

Blaschko H, Muscholl E. Catecholamines. In: Blaschko, H, Muscholl E, eds.  Handbuch der experimentellen Pharmakologie. Volume 33. Berlin: Springer Verlag; 1972, pp. 283-335.

Blaschko H, Richter D, Schlossmann H. The inactivation of adrenaline. Journal of Physiology 1937a; 90:1-14.

Blaschko H, Richter D, Schlossmann H. The oxidation of adrenaline and other amines. Biochemical Journal 1937b; 31: 2187-96.

Blaschko H, Welch AD. Localization of adrenaline in cytoplasmic particles of the bovine adrenal medulla. Naunyn-Schmiedebergs Archiv für experimentelle Pathologie und Pharmakologie 1953; 219: 17-22.

Born GVR, Banks P. Hugh Blaschko. Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 1962; 42: 41-63.


Joseph Knoll

July 17, 2014