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September 1, 1945


JAMA. 1945;129(1):73-74. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860350075015

Casal in 1735 argued that pellagra was due to some toxic or infectious factor in corn. Then in 1925 Goldberger1 reported evidence that the disease is presumably due to inadequate amounts of some essential nutritional factor in corn. Elvehjem and his associates2 afterward isolated this essential factor and identified it as nicotinic acid. In confirmation of the Goldberger theory nicotinic acid was afterward found to be clinically effective against blacktongue in dogs and against many (but not all) pellagra symptoms in man.

As analytic methods were perfected, the deficiency theory was challenged. On a dry weight basis corn contains as much nicotinic acid as eggs, milk, polished rice, oats or rye, and often more. The presence of an unknown pellagra producing toxin in corn was thus indicated. In confirmation of this toxic theory Handler3 of Duke University found that the blacktongue syndrome in dogs is more readily