Development and single laboratory validation of an optical biosensor assay for tetrodotoxin detection as a tool to combat emerging risks in European seafood

Katrina Campbell, Paul Barnes, Simon A Haughey, Cowan Higgins, Kentaro Kawatsu, Vitor Vasconcelos, Christopher T Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a potent neurotoxin emerging in European waters due to increasing ocean temperatures. Its detection in seafood is currently performed as a consequence of using the Association of Analytical Communities (AOAC) mouse bioassay (MBA) for paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins, but TTX is not monitored routinely in Europe. Due to ethical and performance-related issues associated with this bioassay, the European Commission has recently published directives extending procedures that may be used for official PSP control. An AOAC-accredited high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method has now been accepted by the European Union as a first action screening method for PSP toxins to replace the MBA. However, this AOAC HPLC method is not capable of detecting TTX, so this potent toxin would be undetected; thereby, a separate method of analysis is required. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) optical biosensor technology has been proven as a potential alternative screening method to detect PSP toxins in seafood. The addition of a similar SPR inhibition assay for TTX would complement the PSP assay in removing the MBA. The present report describes the development and single laboratory validation in accordance with AOAC and IUPAC guidelines of an SPR method to be used as a rapid screening tool to detect TTX in the sea snail Charonia lampas lampas, a species which has been implicated in 2008 in the first case of human TTX poisoning in Europe. As no current regulatory limits are set for TTX in Europe, single laboratory validation was undertaken using those for PSP toxins at 800 µg/kg. The decision limit (CCa) was 100 µg/kg, with the detection capability (CCß) found to be =200 µg/kg. Repeatability and reproducibility were assessed at 200, 400, and 800 µg/kg and showed relative standard deviations of 8.3, 3.8, and 5.4 % and 7.8, 8.3, and 3.7 % for both parameters at each level, respectively. At these three respective levels, the recovery of the assay was 112, 98, and 99 %.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7753-63
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number24
Early online date30 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


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