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Article
November 29, 1919

THE FUNCTIONS OF THE THYMUS

JAMA. 1919;73(22):1700-1701. doi:10.1001/jama.1919.02610480050018
Abstract

To the scientific investigator there is something tantalizing in the existence of anatomic structures for which no clear-cut function is demonstrable. There are in the body numerous organs that are indisputably indispensable to life. Whenever they are extirpated experimentally or destroyed by disease, the loss of something that they contribute to bodily well-being manifests itself, and death ultimately ensues. Removal of the pancreas, the pituitary or the suprarenals affords an illustration of the fact that these structures are necessary to the organism. Other organs, such as the stomach and salivary glands, can be extirpated without untoward outcome. Their function is replaced to a certain sufficient extent by the action of other glands, although the contributory advantage of the removed tissues becomes evident in the modifications of physiologic performance that their loss entails. Without gastric secretion, alimentation may still proceed satisfactorily; but the danger of undue bacterial action in the absence

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