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April 1, 1916


JAMA. 1916;LXVI(14):1029-1030. doi:10.1001/jama.1916.02580400035020

Seventy years ago, Gobley1 succeeded in obtaining from egg yolk and other organs a substance of fatlike nature, containing phosphorus and nitrogen, which he called lecithin. When it was discovered that this yields fatty acids, glycerophosphoric acid and the nitrogenous base cholin by hydrolysis, a basis was furnished for some conception of the structure of this interesting lipoid substance. It was therefore defined as an ester compound of glycerophosphoric acid replaced by two fatty acid radicals and cholin according to the formula commonly published in textbooks. When it was ascertained later that somewhat similar substances are present in different organs and tissues, Thudicum2 suggested the group name "phosphatids," which has recently found widespread acceptance. Under this are included substances of diverse origin which have found their way into biochemical literature under the designations of lecithin, kephalin, cuorin and sphingomyelin. At first these "lipoids" were associated for the most