Toxicological Investigations on the Sea Urchin Tripneustes gratilla (Toxopneustidae, Echinoid) from Anaho Bay (Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia): Evidence for the Presence of Pacific Ciguatoxins.Mar Drugs. 2018 Apr 06; 16(4)MD
The sea urchin Tripneustes gratilla (Toxopneustidae, Echinoids) is a source of protein for many islanders in the Indo-West Pacific. It was previously reported to occasionally cause ciguatera-like poisoning; however, the exact nature of the causative agent was not confirmed. In April and July 2015, ciguatera poisonings were reported following the consumption of T.gratilla in Anaho Bay (Nuku Hiva Island, Marquesas archipelago, French Polynesia). Patient symptomatology was recorded and sea urchin samples were collected from Anaho Bay in July 2015 and November 2016. Toxicity analysis using the neuroblastoma cell-based assay (CBA-N2a) detected the presence of ciguatoxins (CTXs) in T.gratilla samples. Gambierdiscus species were predominant in the benthic assemblages of Anaho Bay, and G.polynesiensis was highly prevalent in in vitro cultures according to qPCR results. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analyses revealed that P-CTX-3B was the major ciguatoxin congener in toxic sea urchin samples, followed by 51-OH-P-CTX-3C, P-CTX-3C, P-CTX-4A, and P-CTX-4B. Between July 2015 and November 2016, the toxin content in T.gratilla decreased, but was consistently above the safety limit allowed for human consumption. This study provides evidence of CTX bioaccumulation in T.gratilla as a cause of ciguatera-like poisoning associated with a documented symptomatology.