Simultaneous quantification of Pacific ciguatoxins in fish blood using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry

Yim Ling Mak, Jia Jun Wu, Wing Hei Chan, Margaret B. Murphy, James C.W. Lam, Leo L. Chan, Paul K.S. Lam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) is a food intoxication caused by exposure to ciguatoxins (CTXs) in coral reef fish. Rapid analytical methods have been developed recently to quantify Pacific-CTX-1 (P-CTX-1) in fish muscle, but it is destructive and can cause harm to valuable live coral reef fish. Also fish muscle extract was complex making CTX quantification challenging. Not only P-CTX-1, but also P-CTX-2 and P-CTX-3 could be present in fish, contributing to ciguatoxicity. Therefore, an analytical method for simultaneous quantification of P-CTX-1, P-CTX-2, and P-CTX-3 in whole blood of marketed coral reef fish using sonication, solid-phase extraction (SPE), and liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was developed. The optimized method gave acceptable recoveries of P-CTXs (74-103 %) in fish blood. Matrix effects (6-26 %) in blood extracts were found to be significantly reduced compared with those in muscle extracts (suppressed by 34-75 % as reported in other studies), thereby minimizing potential for false negative results. The target P-CTXs were detectable in whole blood from four coral reef fish species collected in a CFP-endemic region. Similar trends in total P-CTX levels and patterns of P-CTX composition profiles in blood and muscle of these fish were observed, suggesting a relationship between blood and muscle levels of P-CTXs. This optimized method provides an essential tool for studies of P-CTX pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in fish, which are needed for establishing the use of fish blood as a reliable sample for the assessment and control of CFP. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3331-3340
Number of pages10
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Ciguatera fish poisoning
  • Fish blood
  • LC-MS/MS
  • P-CTXs
  • Pacific ciguatoxins

Cite this