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, Chung Wah James LAM, Leo L. CHAN, Paul K. S. LAM

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 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. Copyright © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3331-3340
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number10
Early online dateFeb 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013



Mak, Y. L., Wu, J. J., Chan, W. H., Murphy, M. B., Lam, J. C. W., Chan, L. L., & Lam, P. K. S. (2013). Simultaneous quantification of Pacific ciguatoxins in fish blood using liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 405(10), 3331-3340. doi: 10.1007/s00216-013-6766-8


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