Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Tetrodotoxin poisoning due to smooth-backed blowfish, Lagocephalus inermis and the toxicity of L. inermis caught off the Kyushu coast, Japan.

Food poisoning due to ingestion of a puffer fish occurred in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, in October 2008, causing neurotoxic symptoms similar to those of tetrodotoxin (TTX) poisoning. In the present study, we identified the species, toxicity, and toxins using the remaining samples of the causative puffer fish. The puffer fish was identified as smooth-backed blowfish Lagocephalus inermis by nucleotide sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA and cytochrome b gene fragments of muscle mitochondrial DNA. The residual liver sample showed toxicity as high as 1,230 mouse unit (MU)/g by bioassay and TTX was detected by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis. We therefore concluded that the food poisoning was due to TTX caused by consumption of the toxic liver of L. inermis. This is the first report that the liver of L. inermis caught in Japanese waters is strongly toxic, with levels exceeding 1,000 MU/g. In this context, we re-examined the toxicity of L. inermis collected off the coast of Japan. Of 13 specimens assayed, 12 were toxic, although the toxicity varied markedly among individuals and tissues. Because the intestine and ovary of L. inermis have been considered non-toxic, it is particularly noteworthy that these organs were determined to be toxic, with a maximum toxicity of 43.6 MU/g and 10.0 MU/g, respectively. Furthermore, kidney, gallbladder, and spleen, whose toxicity has been unknown, were frequently found to be weakly toxic with levels ranging from 10 to 99 MU/g. Therefore, further study is needed to re-examine the toxicity of smooth-backed blowfish L. inermis in the coastal waters of Japan.

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