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October 27, 1951


JAMA. 1951;147(9):876. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670260078022

Until nearly a decade ago, carbon dioxide, insofar as the animal organism was concerned, was considered a waste product of cellular oxidations. The utilization of carbon dioxide for the synthesis of cellular constituents was thought to be limited to plants. The advent of isotopes as tracers for the study of metabolic processes in the animal body, however, has radically altered this concept. As early as 1942, the then surprising observation was made by a group of Harvard investigators1 that carbon dioxide from NaHC11O3 was utilized in the synthesis of glycogen by the liver of the rat. Subsequent studies2 have verified this unique finding and, indeed, have shown that carbon dioxide may be utilized by the animal organism in the synthesis of a number of other compounds of physiological importance.

The foregoing revolutionary observations at once stimulated interest in the mechanism involved in carbon dioxide fixation