Biochemical identification of homogentisic acid pigment in an ochronotic Egyptian mummy

Frederick F. Stenn*, James W. Milgram, Sandra L. Lee, Raymond J. Weigand, Arthur Veis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations

Abstract

Roentgenograms of an Egyptian mummy, dating from 1500 B.C., showed extensive calcification of the intervertebral discs and articular narrowing in both hip and knee joints. Biopsy cores from the right hip showed parallel black zones in the region of the articular surfaces, leading to a clinical diagnosis of ochrinosis. The black pigment was extracted, analyzed, and compared to an air-oxidized homogentisic acid polymer. The two substances apparently were identical. The chemical evidence thus confirms the clinical finding of ochronosis, an autosomal recessive disorder. This is, so far as known, the earliest verified case of this disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)566-568
Number of pages3
JournalScience
Volume197
Issue number4303
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1977

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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