Tetrodotoxin and Saxitoxin as Pharmacological Tools
Interest in the poisons tetrodotoxin and saxitoxin was initially aroused because of deaths which occurred following careless or innocent consumption of puffer-fish or shellfish. From ancient times it was well known to the Japanese and Chinese that it was hazardous to eat the ovaries and eggs of the puffer-fish (tetrodons, also known as fugu or swellfish), but rather than forsake the fish which is apparently prized by oriental gourmets, chefs were specially trained and licensed to prepare nontoxic fugu. Restaurants which were fortunate enough to have the services of such a cook could include the item in their menu (see Chap. 6). Natural predators were no doubt aware of puffer toxicity, and this must have been very useful in the struggle for survival of the species. One of the earliest pharmacological uses of tetrodotoxin would have been as a poison in suicide, and perhaps homicide, attempts (Kao, 1964).
KeywordsTransmitter Release Presynaptic Terminal Potassium Conductance Pharmacological Tool Presynaptic Membrane
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