Capillary Function and the Contractility Controversy (1923–1936)

  • Bodil Schmidt-Nielsen


While August was waiting for the new institute to be built, work continued in his small laboratory. The capillary book resulting from his Silliman Lectures had become an instant success. At an Alfred Benzon Symposium in 1969, Eugene M. Landis said, “Very few books yielded as prompt and as widespread stimulation of research as this monograph did when it was read by histologists, physiologists, pathologists, and clinicians.”1 In the foreword to the 1959 edition of Krogh’s capillary book, Landis wrote:

“It was written in a style, much more freely, much more con amore than his other books. He seems to be an artist painting a canvas of ideas in minutest detail wherever possible, but still willing with large brushstrokes, or even with exploratory pencil sketches to let the picture evolve fully rather than omit any challenging theoretical or practical implication. This is the reason for its provocative eliciting, from others, researches designed to amplify, test, or modify specific propositions.”2


Methylene Blue Capillary Pressure Contractile Element Instant Success Rockefeller Institute 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Eugene M. Landis: Professor August Krogh: An appreciation. In Capillary Permeability, the transfer of molecules and ions between capillary blood and tissue. Alfred Benzon Symposium II, 1969. Munksgard, Copenhagen, 1970.Google Scholar
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    AK Publ. #191. The English edition was translated by Kathrine Drinker, wife of Cecil Drinker.Google Scholar
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    Ancel B. Keys: The determination of chlorides with the highest accuracy. (J. Chem. Soc., Sept. 1931); The heart gill preparation of the eel and its perfusion for the study of a natural membrane in situ. (Z. verg. Physiol., 15, 1931); Chloride and water secretion and absorption by the gills of the eel. (Z. verg. Physiol., 15, 1931); A. B. Keys & E. N. Willmer: Chloride secreting cells in the gills of fishes with special reference to the common eel. (J. Physiol., 76, 1932 ).Google Scholar
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  25. 25.
    The term active ion transport is a more rigorous term now than in Krogh’s time, when it only meant that the ion was transported uphill. At that time it was not yet possible to distinguish between primary and secondary active chloride transport. It has since been shown that Cl-ions are most often transported by either passively following the Na+ ion or coupled to Na+ transport through an electrically neutral Na+ carrier. However, the argument used by Lundegdrd does indicate that Cl-transport may be independent of Na+ movements. In recent years, evidence-from plants, insects, and other invertebrates-is mounting for the existence of a primary active Cl-pump. George A. Gerenzer et al. Is there a chloride pump? (Am. J. Physiol.,254, 1988).Google Scholar
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    AK Publ. #221; H. Koch: The absorption of chloride ions by the anal papillae of diptera larvae. (J. exp. Biol., 15, 1938 ).Google Scholar
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    Torkel Weis-Fogh, Symposium in honor of August Krogh’s one-hundredth birthday, 1974. Not published.Google Scholar
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    V. B. Wigglesworth: A simple method of volumetric analysis for small quantities of fluid: estimation of chloride in 0.3 µl of tissue fluid. (Biochem. J., 31, 1719–1722, 1938). The regulation of osmotic pressure and chloride concentration in the hemolymph of mosquito larva. (J. exp. Biol., 15, 235–247, 1938 ).Google Scholar
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    AK Publ. #240. “Frog which have been deprived of a certain amount of salt will take up C1- ions from solutions down to 105 molar or less, either with Na+, (K+) or in exchange against HCO3-. While in plant roots the process is apparently going on indiscriminately all the time, in the frog’s skin it is definitely regulated. It take place only when the salt content of the body has been depleted. When potassium chloride only is available it soon stops.”Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© American Physiological Society 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bodil Schmidt-Nielsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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