Preferred IUPAC name
Other names
110-60-1 YesY
3D model (Jmol) Interactive image
3DMet B00037
ChemSpider 13837702 YesY
DrugBank DB01917 N
ECHA InfoCard 100.003.440
EC Number 203-782-3
KEGG C02896 YesY
MeSH Putrescine
PubChem 1045
RTECS number EJ6800000
UN number 2928
Molar mass 88.15 g·mol−1
Appearance Colourless crystals
Odor strong, piperidine-like
Density 0.877 g/mL
Melting point 27.5 °C (81.5 °F; 300.6 K)
Boiling point 158.6 °C; 317.4 °F; 431.7 K
log P −0.466
GHS pictograms
GHS signal word DANGER
H228, H302, H312, H314, H331
P210, P261, P280, P305+351+338, P310
R-phrases R11, R21/22 R23, R34
S-phrases S16, S26, S36/37/39, S45
Flash point 51 °C (124 °F; 324 K)
Explosive limits 0.98–9.08%
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
  • 463 mg kg−1 (oral, rat)
  • 1.576 g kg−1 (dermal, rabbit)
Related compounds
Related alkanamines
Related compounds
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
N verify (what is YesYN ?)
Infobox references

Putrescine, or tetramethylenediamine, is a foul-smelling[1] organic chemical compound NH2(CH2)4NH2 (1,4-diaminobutane or butanediamine) that is related to cadaverine; both are produced by the breakdown of amino acids in living and dead organisms and both are toxic in large doses.[2][3] The two compounds are largely responsible for the foul odor of putrefying flesh, but also contribute to the odor of such processes as bad breath and bacterial vaginosis.[4] They are also found in semen and some microalgae, together with related molecules like spermine and spermidine.


Putrescine[5] and cadaverine[6] were first described in 1885 by the Berlin physician Ludwig Brieger (1849–1919).[7]


Putrescine is produced on an industrial scale by hydrogenation of succinonitrile, which is produced by addition of hydrogen cyanide to acrylonitrile.[8] Putrescine is reacted with adipic acid to yield the polyamide Nylon 46, which is marketed by DSM under the trade name Stanyl.[9] Biotechnological production of putrescine from renewable feedstock is a promising alternative to the chemical synthesis. A metabolically engineered strain of Escherichia coli that produces putrescine at high titer in glucose mineral salts medium has been described.[10]


Putrescine attacks decarboxylated S-adenosyl methionine and gets converted to spermidine. Spermidine in turn attacks another decarboxylated S-adenosyl methionine and gets converted to spermine.

Putrescine is synthesized in small quantities by healthy living cells by the action of ornithine decarboxylase.

Putrescine is synthesized biologically via two different pathways, both starting from arginine.

The polyamines, of which putrescine is one of the simplest, appear to be growth factors necessary for cell division.


Putrescine is toxic in large doses. In rats it has a low acute oral toxicity of 2000 mg/kg body weight, with no-observed-adverse-effect level of 2000 ppm (180 mg/kg body weight/day).[12]

See also


  1. Haglund, William (1996). Forensic taphonomy: The Postmortem Fate of Human Remains. CRC Press. p. 100. ISBN 0-8493-9434-1.
  2. Lewis, Robert Alan (1998). Lewis' Dictionary of Toxicology. CRC Press. p. 212. ISBN 1-56670-223-2.
  3. Kamhi, Ellen, Ph.D., RN, HNC (2007). Alternative Medicine Magazine's Definitive Guide to Weight Loss. Celestial Arts. p. 14. ISBN 1-58761-259-3. Ornithine is converted by bowel bacteria into a toxic substance called putrescine, which in turn degrades into polyamines, such as spermadine, spermine, and cadaverine (literally meaning "the essence of dead cadavers").
  4. Yeoman, CJ;Thomas, SM; Miller, ME; Ulanov, AV; Torralba, M; Lucas, S; Gillis, M; Cregger, M; Gomez, A; Ho, M; Leigh, SR; Stumpf, R; Creedon, DJ; Smith, MA; Weisbaum, JS; Nelson, KE; Wilson, BA; White, BA (2013). "A multi-omic systems-based approach reveals metabolic markers of bacterial vaginosis and insight into the disease.". PLOS ONE. 8 (2): e56111. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056111. PMC 3566083Freely accessible. PMID 23405259.
  5. Ludwig Brieger, "Weitere Untersuchungen über Ptomaine" [Further investigations into ptomaines] (Berlin, Germany: August Hirschwald, 1885), page 43. From page 43: Ich nenne dasselbe Putrescin, von putresco, faul werden, vermodern, verwesen. (I call this [compound] "putrescine", from [the Latin word] putresco, to become rotten, decay, rot.)
  6. Ludwig Brieger, "Weitere Untersuchungen über Ptomaine" [Further investigations into ptomaines] (Berlin, Germany: August Hirschwald, 1885), page 39.
  7. Brief biography of Ludwig Brieger (in German). Biography of Ludwig Brieger in English.
  8. "Nitriles". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry (7th ed.). Retrieved 2007-09-10.
  9. "Electronic Control Modules (ECU) - Electrical & Electronics - Applications - DSM". Dsm.com. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  10. "Metabolic Engineering of Escherichia coli for the Production of Putrescine: A Four Carbon Diamine". Retrieved 2010-06-10.
  11. Srivenugopal KS, Adiga PR (September 1981). "Enzymic conversion of agmatine to putrescine in Lathyrus sativus seedlings. Purification and properties of a multifunctional enzyme (putrescine synthase).". J. Biol. Chem. 256 (18): 9532–41. PMID 6895223.
  12. Til, H.P.; Falke, H.E.; Prinsen, M.K.; Willems, M.I. (1997). "Acute and subacute toxicity of tyramine, spermidine, spermine, putrescine and cadaverine in rats". Food and Chemical Toxicology. 35 (3-4): 337–348. doi:10.1016/S0278-6915(97)00121-X. ISSN 0278-6915.
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