Pufferfish Poisoning and Tetrodotoxin

  • Yuji Nagashima
  • Osamu Arakawa
Reference work entry
Part of the Toxinology book series (TOXI)


Pufferfish possess a potent neurotoxin, tetrodotoxin (TTX), and have caused human intoxications all over the world, especially in East Asia, where people have a time-honored food culture of eating pufferfish. TTX is distributed over a wide variety of organisms including flatworms, ribbon worms, mollusks, crustaceans, starfish, fish, and amphibians, and in the East Asian or Southeast Asian countries, TTX poisonings due to marine snails, horseshoe crabs, and gobies have also occasionally occurred, suggesting the possibility of further geographic expansion and/or diversification of TTX-bearing organisms caused by a change in the marine environment. The origin of TTX is likely certain species of marine bacteria, and many TTX-bearing organisms are toxified via the food chain that starts with the bacteria. Recently, valuable information regarding the dynamics of TTX taken up into the pufferfish body through food organisms, and the molecular mechanisms involved is accumulating, while TTX-bearing organisms are assumed to utilize TTX effectively for their survival, although TTX is a fatal toxin to organisms that possess no TTX. The present chapter describes the distribution of TTX in metazoans, and then introduces recent studies to clarify the intake of TTX to pufferfish liver using a pharmacokinetic model, and to reveal the transfer profile of TTX in pufferfish based on several TTX administration experiments. Moreover, after discussing on the potential physiologic functions of TTX in TTX-bearing organisms such as defense, offense, and attraction, human intoxications due to TTX will be summarized.


Digestive Gland Horseshoe Crab Paralytic Shellfish Poison Garter Snake Hepatic Portal Vein 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Marine Science and TechnologyTokyo University of Marine Science and TechnologyTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Fisheries Science and Environmental StudiesNagasaki UniversityNagasakiJapan

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