An updated ciguatoxin extraction method and silica cleanup for use with HPLC-MS/MS for the analysis of P-CTX-1, PCTX-2 and P-CTX-3

Lauren Meyer*, Steve Carter, Angela Capper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Ciguatera fish poisoning is a debilitating human neuro-intoxication caused by consumption of tropical marine organisms, contaminated with bioaccumulated ciguatoxins (CTXs). The growing number of cases coupled with the high toxicity of CTXs makes their reliable detection and quantification of paramount importance. Three commonly occurring ciguatoxins, P-CTX-1, 2 and 3 from five different ciguatoxic Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson), were used to assess the effectiveness of different extraction techniques: homogenization (high powered blending vs. ultrasonication); C-18 column sizes (500 mg vs. 900 mg); and a novel HILIC SPE cleanup. Despite minor differences, blending and sonication proved equally effective. Larger 900 mg columns offered a greater extraction efficiency, increasing detected P-CTX-1 by 37% (P < 0.001). The newly adapted cleanup was highly effective at reducing co-eluting phospholipids thereby reducing matrix effects and increasing detectable CTXs by HPLC-MS/MS. Silica cleanup extraction efficiencies were also compared between the highly effective and validated ciguatoxin rapid extraction method (CREM) and current best practice extraction method employed by Queensland Health (QH). Overall, the QH protocol proved more effective, especially when paired with the newly adapted cleanup, as this increased the amount of extracted P-CTX-1 by 46% (P < 0.01), P-CTX-2 by 10% and P-CTX-3 by 71% (P = 0.001). This study suggests the QH protocol utilizing a 900 mg C-18 column and newly adapted HILIC SPE cleanup was most effective at extracting P-CTX-1, -2, -3. Specifically P-CTX-1, the primary ciguatoxin congener of concern due to its extremely high potency and an ability to cause CFP at 0.1 μg/kg following consumption of carnivorous fish flesh. Despite being more time intensive (an additional 85 min per batch of 12 samples), this will be especially effective for assessing lower toxin burdens, which may be near the limit of detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-256
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2015


  • Ciguatera
  • Ciguatoxin
  • Extraction efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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