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THE SEMANTICS OF THE PROCESS OF ABSORPTION CHARLES F. CODE, M.D., Ph.D.* Prior to the 1940's, quantitative estimation ofabsorption was comparativelyeasy : a substancewasplacedin thealimentary canaland its disappearance from among the contents was measured. The revolutionary work of Visscher and his colleagues rendered such simple determinations obsolete, at least so far as water and electrolyte are concerned (1, 2). Using isotopically labeled water, sodium, and chloride, they showed that the movement is in both directions—from contents to blood and from blood to contents. Whether absorption occursand to what degreedepend upon the difference between the quantities moved in the two directions. Figure 1 depicts their simple formula for this bidirectional process. Visscher and his colleagues selected the contents ofthe alimentary canal as the basis ofreference, Roul being rate of movement out of the contents and R& being rate of movement into the contents. Rjn > Rout indicates a net gain to the contents, andRirt Exsorption = , Absorption Insorption < Exsorption = Enterosorption Fig. 2.—Proposed nomenclature for the processes ofsorption mechanisms through which theyproceed, andtheir control, aswellas study ofthe separation ofexsorption from secretion. REFERENCES i. M. B. Visscher, E. S. Fetcher.Jr., C. W. Carr, H. P. Gregor, M. S. Bushey, and D. E. Barker. Am. J. Physiol., 142:550, 1944. 2. M. B. Visscher, R. H. Varco, C. W. Carr, R. B. Dean, and D. Erickson. Am. J. Physiol., 141:488, 1944. 562 Charles F. Code · The Semantics ofthe Process ofAbsorption Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Winter i960 ...


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