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Mar. Drugs 2011, 9(11), 2291-2303; doi:10.3390/md9112291
Review

Analytical Challenges: Determination of Tetrodotoxin in Human Urine and Plasma by LC-MS/MS

1,* , 1,2
 and
1
1 Department of Chemistry, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, China 2 Department of Pathology and Clinical Biochemistry, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, China
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 September 2011 / Revised: 27 October 2011 / Accepted: 28 October 2011 / Published: 8 November 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tetrodotoxin)
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Abstract

Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a powerful sodium channel blocker found in puffer fish and some marine animals. Cases of TTX poisoning most often result from puffer fish ingestion. Diagnosis is mainly from patient’s signs and symptoms or the detection of TTX in the leftover food. If leftover food is unavailable, the determination of TTX in the patient’s urine and/or plasma is essential to confirm the diagnosis. Although various methods for the determination of TTX have been published, most of them are for food tissue samples. Dealing with human urine and blood samples is much more challenging. Unlike in food, the amount of toxin in the urine and blood of a patient is generally extremely low; therefore a very sensitive method is required to detect it. In this regard, mass spectrometry (MS) methods are the best choice. Since TTX is a very polar compound, there will be lack of retention on conventional reverse-phase columns; use of ion pair reagent or hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC) can help solve this problem. The problem of ion suppression is another challenge in analyzing polar compound in biological samples. This review will discuss different MS methods and their pros and cons.
Keywords: TTX poisoning; biological samples; ion suppression; LC-MS/MS TTX poisoning; biological samples; ion suppression; LC-MS/MS
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.

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Leung, K.-Y.; Fong, B.-W.; Tsoi, Y.-K. Analytical Challenges: Determination of Tetrodotoxin in Human Urine and Plasma by LC-MS/MS. Mar. Drugs 2011, 9, 2291-2303.

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