Breath of fresh death

22 04 2009

via the March issue of Mini-AIR (Annals of Improbable Research)

Each month AIR holds a limerick contest where readers are asked to help describe selected research in rhyme.

Here is last month’s winning entry by INVESTIGATOR A.S. KASWELL:

Cadaverine has so few charms

And Putrescine raises alarms.

We make them at night,

Say Cooke, Leeves and White –

Our mouths become chemical farms.

What does it mean…

Cadaverine and putrescine are real chemicals that do smell as bad as they sound (and worse!). Their names stem from their discovery in rotting corpses.

The research showed their production in inactive mouths during sleep cycles. Yes, your breath really does smell that bad in the morning.


Cooke M, Leeves N, White C (2003) “Time profile of putrescine, cadaverine, indole and skatole in human salivaArchives of Oral Biology 48(4):323-7 doi:10.1016/S0003-9969(03)00015-3




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