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Butenandt, Adolf Frederick Johann

hormone hormones urine sex

[boo tuhnant] (1903–95) German organic chemist: developed chemistry of sex hormones.

A student at Marburg and Göttingen, Butenandt later held posts in Danzig, Berlin and Tübingen. His work was mainly in the field of sex hormones. In 1929 he isolated the first pure sex hormone, oestrone, from human pregnancy urine. He also isolated the male hormone androsterone from normal human male urine in 1931. These potent hormones are present in natural sources only in small amounts: eg 15 mg of androsterone was isolated from 15 000 litres of urine donated by Viennese policemen. Butenandt was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1939, but the German government forbade him to accept it. He secured progesterone, the mammalian pregnancy hormone (20 mg from the ovaries of 50 000 sows), in 1934; and later worked on an insect hormone (ecdysone) and other insect pheromones. He showed the relation between the above compounds, which are all members of the steroid group, and did much to establish the chemistry of this interesting and valuable group.

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