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Binding and Pharmacokinetics of the Sodium Channel Blocking Toxins (Saxitoxin and the Tetrodotoxins)

[ Vol. 17 , Issue. 4 ]


V. Pratheepa and Vitor Vasconcelos   Pages 320 - 327 ( 8 )


Tetrodotoxin (TTX) found in diverse variety of animals including puffer fishes, some newts, frogs and limited number of non-vertebrate species (6 different phyla). The saxitoxin (STX) and the TTX are small molecules composed of 7,8,9 guanidinium and 1,2,3 guanidinium groups, respectively in their structures. These groups provide positive charge to the molecules and are believed to interact with negatively charged Glu755 and Asp400 residues in domain II and I of the sodium channel strongly. The pharmacokinetic studies (absorption, distribution and accumulation) reported on Takifugu rubripes, Takifugu pardalis, Takifugu niphobles, Takifugu vermicularis, Takifugu snyderi, etc. revealed that higher concentration of TTX is accumulated in liver than in the skin or other tissues. Although TTX is also accumulated in the skin of various marine species (secretory glands) and the excess of TTX are emitted through skin which acts as a defence agent for those species. STX showed high toxicity on crab and other animals, due to its accumulation in the tissues and resistance to the sodium channel proteins. It concluded that TTX and STX based toxicities are developed on the species by the absorption, distribution and accumulation of toxins in tissues. Also the ingestion of these species (marine species) as food may allow transferring toxin to the human being.


Guanidinium group, puffer fish, saxitoxin, takifugu rubripes, tetrodotoxin.


CIIMAR, Marine and Environmental Research Center, Porto University, Rua dos Bragas, 289, 4050-123 Porto

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