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September 2, 1922


JAMA. 1922;79(10):826-827. doi:10.1001/jama.1922.02640100046016

Atrophy is a phenomenon that is ordinarily regarded as pathologic in character, although this is by no means always the case. It may be questioned, at any rate, whether the disappearance of certain bodily tissues with disuse or diminished function—for example, the atrophy of the mammary gland at the end of lactation—is not in reality a physiologic reaction. After Salkowski's pioneer studies in this field in 1889, the relation of autolysis to atrophy began to receive considerable attention.6 There followed a decade or more during which only occasional reference to the subject was made. Recently, however, with increasing knowledge of the importance of hydrogen ion concentration in many physiologic and biochemical reactions, the possible rôle of autolysis in the bodily processes has come into new prominence.7

It seems to be well established that the long-known "autodigestion" of most tissues kept under suitable conditions postmortem is due to enzymatic

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