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Tuesday, 18.05.2021

Samuel Gershon: Events and Memories

Michael Goldberg’s comments


         I appreciated Dr. Gershon's summary of all the work he has done over the years on multiple important topics. Thinking about his work, I was reminded of the clinical pharmacology studies on yohimbine and alpha-2 antagonists that my colleagues and I performed at Vanderbilt in the early '80s and at Merck in the later '80s, and the fundamental work from ~1910 in Germany conducted well before catecholamine receptors and receptor subtypes were postulated (which his experiments replicated), as summarized in our review from 1983. His experiments in anxiety were cited extensively in our review. These reproduced the German experiments, as I remember them.

         Dr. Gershon’s studies provided essential background work for our exploration of more subtle effects of lower doses of yohimbine in healthy subjects and patients with autonomic insufficiency conducted at Vanderbilt. In addition, at Merck centrally (MK-912) and peripherally (MK-467) active alpha-2 antagonists were explored for diabetes. I recommend the following publications for additional information about these studies: Goldberg and Robertson 1980; Goldberg, Hollister, Robertson 1983, 1984; Goldberg, Jackson, Krakau et al. 1986; Goldberg, Speier and Robertson 1984; Onrot, Goldberg, Biaggioni et al. 1987; Onrot, Goldberg, Hollister et al. 1986; Onrot, Goldberg, Hollister et al. 1986; Robertson, Goldberg, Onrot et al. 1986; Robertson, Goldberg, Tung et al. 1986; Sciberras, Reed, Elliott, Blain and Goldberg 1994; Tung, Onoura, Robertson and Goldberg 1983; Warren, Dollery, Sciberras and Goldberg 1991).

         While I have not followed the field since leaving Vanderbilt there has been more recent literature on yohimbine in relation to sexual function and other observations.

At this date, I did want to inform the Group of our work on this topic. At the time, I believe we were the only group studying yohimbine at graded doses in relation to its potential autonomic effects. In addition, I would like to acknowledge Dr. Gershon’s work in this important field, which is not confined to Psychiatry.



Goldberg M, Robertson D. Yohimbine: A pharmacologic probe for study of the a2 adrenoreceptor. Pharmacological Reviews, 1983;35:143-80.

Goldberg MR, Hollister A., Robertson D. Influence of yohimbine on blood pressure, autonomic reflexes and plasma catecholamines in humans. Hypertension, 1983;5:772-8.

Goldberg MR, Robertson D. Evidence for the existence of vascular alpha 2-adrenergic receptors in humans. Hypertension, 1984;6:551-6.

Goldberg MR, Speier LS, Robertson D. Yohimbine: Assay by high performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection. J. Liquid Chromatography, 1984;7:1003-12.

Goldberg, MR, Robertson D, Fitzgerald GA. Prostacyclin Biosynthesis and Platelet Function in Autonomic Dysfunction. Neurology 1985;35:120-3.

Goldberg MR, Jackson RV, Krakau J, Island DP, Robertson D. Influence of yohimbine on release of anterior pituitary hormones. Life Sci. 1986;39:395-8.

Onrot J, Goldberg MR, Hollister A, Biaggioni I, Kincaid D, Robertson D. Management of Chronic Orthostatic Hypotension. Am. J. Med. 1986;80:454-64.

Onrot, J, Goldberg MR, Biaggioni I, Kincaid D, Hollister AS, Robertson D. Oral yohimbine in human autonomic failure. Neurology 1987;37:215-20.

Onrot, J, Goldberg MR, Biaggioni I, Hollister AS. Postjunctional vascular smooth muscle alpha-2 adrenoreceptors in human autonomic failure. Clin. Invest. Med. 1987;10:26-31.

Robertson D, Goldberg MR, Onrot J, Hollister AS, Wiley R, Thompson JG, Robertson,RM. Isolated failure of autonomic noradrenergic neurotransmission: evidence for impaired ß-hydroxylation of dopamine. New Eng. J. Med. 1986;314:1494-7.

Robertson D, Goldberg MR, Tung CS, Hollister AS, Robertson RM. Use of alpha 2 adrenoreceptor agonists and antagonists in the functional assessment of the sympathetic nervous system. J. Clin. Inv. 1986;78:576-81.

Sciberras DG, Reed JW, Elliott C, Blain PG, Goldberg MR. The effects of a peripherally selective alpha 2-adrenoceptor antagonist, MK-467, on the metabolic and cardiovascular response to exercise in healthy man. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1994;37:39-44.

Tung CS, Onuora CO, Robertson D, Goldberg MR. Hypertensive effect of yohimbine following selective injection into the nucleus tractus solitarii of normotensive rats. Brain Res. 1983;277:193-5.

Warren JB, Dollery CT, Sciberras D, Goldberg MR. Assessment of MK-467, a peripheral alpha 2-adrenergic receptor antagonist, with intravenous clonidine. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1991;50:71-7.


November 7, 2019