Re: pus

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From:"J. A. Kiernan" <> (by way of histonet)
To:histonet <>
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On Thu, 21 Jan 1999, Hawkins, Hal wrote:

> I would like to ask the group to try to clarify a question for me:
> Why is pus green?

   An interesting question. When I worked as an abscess-incisor
   and general dogsbody in a casualty department, I saw pus in
   quite a range of colours: shades of green, yellow and almost
   white (French Canadian pea soup, Coleman's English mustard and
   clotted Devon cream, to use the pathologists' noble tradition
   of likening the achievements of diseases to foods). Without
   any serious study I thought that the coloured substances
   were produced by the bacteria, probably because of Pseudomonas
   pyocyanea, named fo its fluorescent blue-green pus. I never
   saw such pus, but have seen the colour in the agar of bacterial
   cultures, and also in contaminated tissue culture medium. This was
   in 1968, and carbenicillin had just arrived on the market to
   solve the problem.)

   The myeloperoxidase/biliverdin suggestions also seem reasonable.
   Proteins with peroxidase activity could generate coloured
   products from all sorts of compounds that might find their way
   into pus from either the causative bacteria or their suffering
   host. All this is speculation. Some HistoNet suBsCriber is sure
   to come up with hard facts to answer the simple but penetrating
   question of why pus, though no longer laudable, is frequently

 John A. Kiernan,
 Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology,
 The University of Western Ontario,
 LONDON,  Canada  N6A 5C1

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