Harry Charlton made significant contributions to the physiological analysis of the hpg (hypogonadal) mutant mouse. This mouse shows no gonadal development and has proved valuable for understanding how the hypothalamo-pituitary axis functions as an integrated unit. His research showed, firstly, that the abnormal mice have extremely low levels of pituitary gonadotrophins but that appropriate exogenous treatment with GnRH leads to full sexual maturation. Episodic, not continuous, treatment with GnRH is essential to restore the pituitary gland.
His work led to a series of experiments using cerebral transplants to show that the brain is not an absolutely privileged site, that CNS tissues express class I MHC molecules and that the site of a transplantation is relevant to the immunological response. His earlier work on the hypothalamous-hypophyseal axis was significant in demonstrating rhythmic changes of hormone levels in the wild and in showing the involvement of the pineal gland in humoral control. He later investigated the immunological consequences of injecting viral vectors into the brain in the context of gene therapy.
Dr Harry Charlton FMedSci FRS died on 5 August 2023.
Interest and expertise
Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
Neuroendocrinology, neural transplantation, Sexual reproduction, Gene therapy