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December 29, 1917


JAMA. 1917;LXIX(26):2185. doi:10.1001/jama.1917.02590530027017

Only a few years have passed since the so-called lipoids were regarded as essentially characteristic of nervous tissue, from which some of them were first prepared in amounts adequate for careful study. Subsequent investigation demonstrated a far more widespread distribution of these fatlike organic substances in tissue of the most diverse sort, in both the animal and the plant kingdoms. The lipoids, or at least representatives of this somewhat heterogeneous group of compounds, are today looked on as important constituents of living cells in general; and they appear to play a prominent part in the structure and function of the cell membranes. Their physical properties are quite unlike that of the ordinary water-soluble components of tissues; and the unique character of their chemical composition suggests important functions of a chemical nature, whatever they may be.

Among the lipoids the phosphatids, a group including lecithin and kephalin, have received the most