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Mortality Rate in Male and Female Guinea-pigs on a Scorbutogenic Diet


Odumosu and Wilson1 have reported the unexpected observation that a significant proportion of female guinea-pigs were able to survive for an unusually long period (in some cases perhaps indefinitely) on a diet free of ascorbic acid, implying that these animals could synthesize the vitamin endogenously. The literature on experimental scurvy in guinea-pigs contains, as far as we are aware, no past studies on the mortality of guinea-pigs deprived of an exogenous source of ascorbic acid in relation to sex. In experiments the animals were killed before they reached the point where death from scurvy might be expected, and the sex of animals was either not stated or male only. Nevertheless it has been assumed that both male and female guinea-pigs require an exogenous supply of ascorbic acid and that administration of an ascorbic acid-free diet would lead to the death of all animals, irrespective of sex, within 3–4 weeks. In view of the importance of the observation of Odumosu and Wilson1 in respect of the nature of the lesion in ascorbic acid metabolism in guinea-pigs and as it might reflect on the requirements of humans for an exogenous supply of the vitamin, we felt it necessary to verify their finding.

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  1. Odumosu, A., and Wilson, C. W. M., Brit. J. Pharmacol., 42, 637P (1971).

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  2. Reid, M. E., and Briggs, G. M., J. Nutr., 51, 341 (1953).

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  3. Reid, M. E., in The Vitamins (edit. by Sebrell, W. H., and Harris, R. S.), 1, 269 (Academic Press, New York, 1954).

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  4. Jones, P. R., Hurley, R. J., and Hughes, R. E., Nature, 242, 521 (1973).

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BARNES, M., CONSTABLE, B., IMPEY, S. et al. Mortality Rate in Male and Female Guinea-pigs on a Scorbutogenic Diet. Nature 242, 522–523 (1973).

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