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Food Addit Contam. 2002 Jun;19(6):555-61.

Azaspiracid shellfish poisoning: unusual toxin dynamics in shellfish and the increased risk of acute human intoxications.

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Ecotoxicology Research Unit, Chemistry Department, Cork Institute of Technology, Bishopstown, Cork, Ireland.


A number of recent acute human intoxications in Europe from the consumption of Irish mussels have been attributed to the presence of a new class of toxins named azaspiracids. The study demonstrates that azaspiracids behave differently from other polyether toxins, and this accounts for most false-negative results in the mouse bioassay employed by regulatory agencies to detect azaspiracids. Typically, polyether toxins are concentrated in the digestive glands of shellfish, but this is not always the situation with azaspiracids. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), especially multiple tandem MS methods, have been applied to demonstrate that azaspiracid (AZA1) and its methyl- and demethyl- analogues, AZA2 and AZA3 respectively, are distributed throughout shellfish tissues. Using conventional mouse bioassay protocols, only 0-40% of the total azaspiracid content of shellfish was used in the assay, which could directly account for false-negative results. It was also observed that the toxin profiles differed significantly in various mussel tissues with AZA1 as the predominant toxin in the digestive glands and AZA3 predominant in the remaining tissues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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