Lactic acid was first found and described in sour milk by Karl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786) in 1780. The German physician-chemist Johann Joseph Scherer (1841-1869) demonstrated the occurrence of lactic acid in human blood under pathological conditions in 1843 and 1851. In this article we honour the forgotten observations by Scherer and describe the influence of Scherer's finding on further research on lactic acid at the end of the 19th century. We conclude that Scherer's 1843 case reports should be cited as the first description of lactic acid in human blood after death and also as the first demonstration of lactic acid as a pathological finding in septic and haemorrhagic shock. Carl Folwarczny was, in 1858, the first to demonstrate lactic acid in blood in a living patient.

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Intensive Care Medicine
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Kompanje, E., Jansen, T., van der Hoven, B., & Bakker, J. (2007). The first demonstration of lactic acid in human blood in shock by Johann Joseph Scherer (1814-1869) in January 1843. Intensive Care Medicine (Vol. 33, pp. 1967–1971). doi:10.1007/s00134-007-0788-7