Organic compound, essential in animal metabolism. The nature of the bound form was clarified through the discovery and synthesis (1947–50) of the compound pantetheine, which contains pantothenic acid combined with the compound thioethanolamine. Pantetheine is part of two larger compounds (coenzyme A and acyl-carrier protein) that promote a large number of metabolic reactions essential for the growth and well-being of animals. A dietary deficiency severe enough to lead to clear-cut disease has not been described in humans; however, when a person is severely malnourished, deficiency of the vitamin appears to contribute to the observed weakness and mental depression.
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