Ciguatoxin Occurrence in Food-Web Components of a Cuban Coral Reef Ecosystem: Risk-Assessment Implications.Toxins (Basel). 2019 12 11; 11(12)T
In Cuba, ciguatera poisoning associated with fish consumption is the most commonly occurring non-bacterial seafood-borne illness. Risk management through fish market regulation has existed in Cuba for decades and consists of bans on selected species above a certain weight; however, the actual occurrence of ciguatoxins (CTXs) in seafood has never been verified. From this food safety risk management perspective, a study site locally known to be at risk for ciguatera was selected. Analysis of the epiphytic dinoflagellate community identified the microalga Gambierdiscus. Gambierdiscus species included six of the seven species known to be present in Cuba (G. caribaeus, G. belizeanus, G. carpenteri, G. carolinianus, G. silvae, and F. ruetzleri). CTX-like activity in invertebrates, herbivorous and carnivorous fishes were analyzed with a radioligand receptor-binding assay and, for selected samples, with the N2A cell cytotoxicity assay. CTX activity was found in 80% of the organisms sampled, with toxin values ranging from 2 to 8 ng CTX3C equivalents g-1 tissue. Data analysis further confirmed CTXs trophic magnification. This study constitutes the first finding of CTX-like activity in marine organisms in Cuba and in herbivorous fish in the Caribbean. Elucidating the structure-activity relationship and toxicology of CTX from the Caribbean is needed before conclusions may be drawn about risk exposure in Cuba and the wider Caribbean.