TERRAPUB Aqua-BioScience Monographs

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Vol. 10 (No. 3), pp. 41–80, 2017 doi:10.5047/absm.2017.01003.0041

Toxins of Pufferfish—Distribution, Accumulation Mechanism, and Physiologic Functions

Osamu Arakawa1*, Tomohiro Takatani1, Shigeto Taniyama1 and Ryohei Tatsuno2

1Graduate School of Fisheries and Environmental Sciences, Nagasaki University, 1-14 Bunkyo-machi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki 852-8521, Japan
2Department of Food Science and Technology, National Fisheries University, Japan Fisheries Research and Education Agency, 2-7-1 Nagatahonmachi, Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi 759-6595, Japan
*e-mail: arakawa@nagasaki-u.ac.jp

(Received on April 30, 2015; Accepted on September 12, 2016; Online published on October 5, 2017)

Abstract: Our many years of studies have provided a lot of information regarding distribution, accumulation mechanism, and physiologic functions of the natural toxins harbored by pufferfish. We detected tetrodotoxin (TTX) and/or its derivatives in several species of aquatic organisms including marine bacteria. This, along with the fact that pufferfish became non-toxic when they were reared with non-toxic feed, indicated that the toxification of pufferfish is of exogenous origin. Subsequently, we revealed by various TTX administration experiments using non-toxic cultured pufferfish that the TTX administered into the muscle or digestive tract rapidly transferred to the liver and skin, and that the toxin transfer to the gonads was largely different between male and female, suggesting the involvement of maturation in the internal kinetics of TTX. On the other hand, we visualized micro-distribution of TTX in the tissues of various TTX-bearing organisms using an immunohistochemical technique, giving a crucial insight to elucidate physiologic functions of TTX including the function as a defensive or offensive agent. Furthermore, we found that Southeast Asian freshwater pufferfish possess paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) as a main toxin, and that boxfish and Bangladeshi freshwater pufferfish bear a palytoxin (PLTX)-like toxin, and cause a rhabdomyolysis, which overturned the common sense that pufferfish toxin equals TTX.

Keywords: tetrodotoxoin, paralytic shellfish poison, saxitoxin, palytoxin, pufferfish, Takifugu rubripes, food poisoning

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