Microdistribution of tetrodotoxin in two species of blue-ringed octopuses (Hapalochlaena lunulata and Hapalochlaena fasciata) detected by fluorescent immunolabeling

Becky L Williams, Michael R Stark, Roy L Caldwell
Toxicon: Official Journal of the International Society on Toxinology 2012 December 1, 60 (7): 1307-13
Blue-ringed octopuses (genus Hapalochlaena) possess the potent neurotoxin tetrodotoxin (TTX). We examined the microdistribution of TTX in ten tissues of Hapalochlaena lunulata and Hapalochlaena fasciata by immunolabeling for fluorescent light microscopy (FLM). We visualized TTX throughout the posterior salivary gland, but the toxin was concentrated in cells lining the secretory tubules within the gland. Tetrodotoxin was present just beneath the epidermis of the integument (mantle and arms) and also concentrated in channels running through the dermis. This was suggestive of a TTX transport mechanism in the blood of the octopus, which would also explain the presence of the toxin in the blood-rich brachial hearts, gills, nephridia, and highly vascularized Needham's sac (testes contents). We also present the first report of TTX in any cephalopod outside of the genus Hapalochlaena. A specimen of Octopus bocki from French Polynesia contained a small amount of TTX in the digestive gland.

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