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JAMA 100 Years Ago
April 28, 2004


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(16):2026. doi:10.1001/jama.291.16.2026-b

"Antitrope," or "antitropin," is a new term which Wright1 has invented as a generic term for the antibodies. Aside from the fact that it is undesirable to introduce a multiplicity of terms to designate the same thing, we are inclined to consider the word itself a poor one. The use of anti- is appropriate in two senses; it expresses, in the first place, the antagonism which an antibody has for its counter-substance, and suggests also the general law that by immunizing with proper proteid bodies there are developed new bodies the specific opposites of those injected. The term antibody seems, then, to express the important qualities in a generic sense. The addition of -trope or tropin (from the Greek τρ∊π∊ιν, to turn) introduces the idea of affinity into a word which already bears the meaning of antagonism. Either root may be considered as appropriate, but the two combined add nothing essential to the already established antibody. Through its use Wright has provided us with the following combinations: agglutinating, bactericidal, bacteriolytic, antitoxic, and opsonic antitropins. "Opsonin" is used to designate that quality of a serum which makes a microbe more susceptible to phagocytosis, the term having its origin from a Greek word which means "to provide food for." It is questionable if such a quality of serum, as a distinct one, has been sufficiently determined as to justify our looking at it in this specific manner. It way well be that the bactericidal substances, or in some cases the agglutinating, so impress the bacteria that they become more readily the prey of the phagocytes. Hence, until opsonin can be demonstrated as a substance distinct from these, the word does not commend itself for general use.

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