Putrescine is a foul-smelling 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. 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. They are also found in semen and some microalgae, together with related molecules like spermine and spermidine.
^Kamhi, Ellen, Ph.D., RN, HNC (2007). Alternative Medicine Magazine's Definitive Guide to Weight Loss. Celestial Arts. p. 14. ISBN1-58761-259-3. 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").
^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.)
^Ludwig Brieger, "Weitere Untersuchungen über Ptomaine" [Further investigations into ptomaines] (Berlin, Germany: August Hirschwald, 1885), page 39.
^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. PMID6895223.
^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. ISSN0278-6915.
^"Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB).” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.