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November 19, 1927


JAMA. 1927;89(21):1784. doi:10.1001/jama.1927.02690210050016

In any attempt to ascertain the physiologic importance of the various glands and organs of the body, attention is nowadays almost inevitably directed toward the internal secretions. The latter are by no means always specific in character in the sense that they are exclusively the product of a special structure. Some of the internal secretions are merely by-products of metabolism which may serve incidentally to modify the function of some part of the body. Thus, carbon dioxide may act on the respiratory center so as to augment its performance; and urea may stimulate the excretory activity of the kidneys. When, however, an organ reveals its importance because serious consequences follow its removal, one expects to discover that the structure in question ordinarily produces some essential chemical substance—a hormone, or an autacoid, as the British physiologist Schäfer prefers to designate the group of substances specially produced to control metabolic functions. In