Table of Contents
ISRN Toxicology
Volume 2011, Article ID 276939, 10 pages
Review Article

Tetrodotoxin Poisoning Due to Pufferfish and Gastropods, and Their Intoxication Mechanism

1Faculty of Healthcare, Tokyo Healthcare University, Setagaya, Tokyo 154-8568, Japan
2Graduate School of Fisheries Science and Environmental Studies, Nagasaki University, Nagasaki 852-8521, Japan

Received 19 July 2011; Accepted 7 September 2011

Academic Editor: D. Drobne

Copyright © 2011 Tamao Noguchi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Marine pufferfish generally contain a large amount of tetrodotoxin (TTX) in their skin and viscera, and have caused many incidences of food poisoning, especially in Japan. Edible species and body tissues of pufferfish, as well as their allowable fishing areas, are therefore clearly stipulated in Japan, but still 2 to 3 people die every year due to pufferfish poisoning. TTX is originally produced by marine bacteria, and pufferfish are intoxicated through the food chain that starts with the bacteria. Pufferfish become nontoxic when fed TTX-free diets in a closed environment in which there is no possible invasion of TTX-bearing organisms. On the other hand, TTX poisoning due to marine snails has recently spread through Japan, China, Taiwan, and Europe. In addition, TTX poisoning of dogs due to the ingestion of sea slugs was recently reported in New Zealand. TTX in these gastropods also seems to be exogenous; carnivorous large snails are intoxicated by eating toxic starfish, and necrophagous small-to-medium snails, the viscera of dead pufferfish after spawning. Close attention must be paid to the geographic expansion and/or diversification of TTX-bearing organisms, and to the sudden occurrence of other forms of TTX poisoning due to their ingestion.