Identification of ciguatoxins in a shark involved in a fatal food poisoning

Published on 15. August 2017

Identification of ciguatoxins in a shark involved in a fatal food poisoning in the Indian Ocean

Jorge Diogène, Laia Reverté, Maria Rambla-Alegre, Vanessa del Río, Pablo de la Iglesia, Mònica Campàs, Oscar Palacios, Cintia Flores, Josep Caixach, Christian Ralijaona, Iony Razanajatovo, Agathe Pirog, Hélène Magalon, Nathalie Arnich & Jean Turquet


Severe food poisoning events after the consumption of sharks have been reported since the 1940s; however, there has been no clear understanding of their cause. Herein, we report for the first time the presence of ciguatoxins (CTXs) in sharks. The identification by mass spectrometry of CTXs, including two new analogues, in a bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) that was consumed by humans, causing the poisoning and death of 11 people in Madagascar in 2013 is described. Typical neurotoxic ciguatera symptoms were recorded in patients, and toxicological assays on extracts of the shark demonstrated CTX-like activity. These results confirm this episode as a ciguatera poisoning event and expand the range of pelagic fish species that are involved in ciguatera in the Indian Ocean. Additionally, gambieric acid D, a molecule originally described in CTX-producing microalgae, was identified for the first time in fish. This finding can contribute to a better understanding of trophic relations within food webs. The present work confirms that consumption of sharks from the Indian Ocean should be considered a ciguatera risk, and actions should be taken to evaluate its magnitude and risk in order to manage shark fisheries.

Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 8240, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-08682-8



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