When the classical book of H. Fischer and H. Orth (I)„Die Chemie des Pyrrols“ was published in 1937, much was known on the chemical structure of porphyrins, but very little on the biochemical and biological significance of the occurrence of free porphyrins in nature. They had been found widespread but generally only in traces, which it was possible to discover because of the extraordinarily characteristic properties of their fluorescence and light absorption. Larger amounts had been found in certain rare diseases of man and mammals, and in isolated instances haphazardly distributed over nature. It was known that these porphyrins were chemically related to, or identical with, the prosthetic groups of haematin compounds or chlorophyll. Practically nothing was known, however, on the biosynthesis of the porphyrins, on their biochemical interrelationship, and on their biochemical relation to the metal complexes of fundamental biological importance. Such hypotheses as were brought forward were entirely speculative, and most of them have by now been shown to be wrong.


Pyrrole Ring Prosthetic Group Dimethyl Ester Porphyria Cutanea Tarda Formyl Group 
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Copyright information

© Wien · Springer - Verlag 1954

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Lemberg
    • 1
  1. 1.SydneyAustralia

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