N

nicotinic acid

Figure 9.2 Three important amines, histamine, putresine and cadaverine, derived from amino-acids, together with the four amino-acids and nicotinic acid from which the great majority of alkaloids are made

Physiological amines from phenylalanine and tryptophan have been discussed in Chapter 8. A non-aromatic example to add is histamine, derived from the cyclic amino-acid histidine (Figure 9.2). Histamine is released in large amounts in allergic reactions in humans and other animals. Histamine is a characteristic component of wasp and bee venom. It is also in the venom of some Australian ants and in the spines on larvae of some Lepidoptera. Putrescine and cadaverine are two diamines with repulsive odours, first identified in decaying meat. Their odours are warnings against eating such material that contains bacterial toxins. Cadaverine is also a skin irritant and poison.

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