Thursday, September 19, 2013

What is Tetrodotoxin?

Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a poisonous substance produced by certain fish types like pufferfish. So, the individuals who enjoy pufferfish foods are at high risk of developing food poisoning with this substance. It is produced by some other animals as well. 
Tetrodotoxin blocks the flow of sodium ions through the sodium channels present in the nerve cells. The size of tetrodotoxin is larger than Na+ and it blocks Na+ channels like a "cork in a bottle" by binding to the channels. Thus it prevents the flow of Na+ during action potential.
One milligram of tetrodotoxin is considered as the mortal dose. In mouse, studies reveal that LD50 is10 nanograms. There is no antidote discovered yet for tetrodotoxin.
Symptoms of tetrodotoxin poisoning start with tingling sensation of lips and tongue. Other symptoms include, hypersalivation, sweating, headache, tremors, bronchospasm, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Treatment of tetrodotoxin poisoning is symptomatic including airway management, and stomach wash with activated charcoal if it is ingested. Intravenous fluids, alpha adrenergic agonists and anticholinesterase agents are also useful to relieve the symptoms. 



Keywords: Tetrodotoxin, Puffer fish, Sodium channels, Na+ ions, Nerve block, Action potential,

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