TTX, Tetrodotoxin, is a sodium channel blocker. It binds to the receptors of
sodium channels preventing them to allow passage of sodium ions through a
Why it is a toxin, is that it is poisonous and will kill a human at certain
levels. The toxic mechanism of action is the blocking of sodium channels,
usually voltage gated, and the subsequent loss of an action potential which
would be required to release calcium in a muscle cell-for example. Thus the
muscle is unable to contract or enters in a state of tetany.
The allure of the blowfish, when properly prepared, gives one the tingling
sensation upon tasting the meat. Of course, this is at low levels; hopefully
if you want to walk away from your meal.
TTX poisoning is generally treated by artificial respiration and subsequent
connection of the patient to a ventilator. TTX works very similar to STX, or
Saxitoxin which is from clams and mussels who feed during a red tide.
Not all sodium channel blockers are bad. Most local anesthetics are sodium
channel blockers which will work on Type iii-iV pain receptors, blocking
their depolarization and allowing the doc or dentist to work without you
feeling every nick, prick, and cut.
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