Natural Toxicants: Tetrodotoxin

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Tetrodotoxin (tetrodotoxin) is a potent neurotoxin, which shuts down electrical signaling in nerves by blocking the voltage-gated sodium channel proteins in nerve cell membranes. It was originally discovered in puffer fish but is found in a range of animal species and thought to be produced by bacteria. The toxin can be lethal to humans being 10 000 times more potent than cyanide. Human fatalities have been attributed to the ingestion of this toxin through consumption of puffer fish, a delicacy in Japan and other regions, and other marine species. The effects of tetrodotoxin poisoning onset quickly and include shortness of breath, numbness, tingling, light-headedness, paralysis, and irregular heartbeat. Treatment usually consists of respiratory assistance as no antidote has been developed. The accepted method of analysis for tetrodotoxin is the mouse bioassay, although recently more ethical assays have been developed including high performance liquid chromatography, biosensor and enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Food Safety
EditorsYasmine Motarjemi
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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