Detection of diarrheic shellfish poisoning and azaspiracid toxins in Moroccan mussels: comparison of the LC-MS method with the commercial immunoassay kit

Mar Drugs. 2008;6(4):587-94. doi: 10.3390/md6040587.


Diarrheic shellfish poisoning (DSP) is a recurrent gastrointestinal illness in Morocco, resulting from consumption of contaminated shellfish. In order to develop a rapid and reliable technique for toxins detection, we have compared the results obtained by a commercial immunoassay-"DSP-Check" kit" with those obtained by LC-MS. Both techniques are capable of detecting the toxins in the whole flesh extract which was subjected to prior alkaline hydrolysis in order to detect simultaneously the esterified and non esterified toxin forms. The LC-MS method was found to be able to detect a high level of okadaic acid (OA), low level of dinophysistoxin-2 (DTX2), and surprisingly, traces of azaspiracids 2 (AZA2) in mussels. This is the first report of a survey carried out for azaspiracid (AZP) contamination of shellfish harvested in the coastal areas of Morocco. The "DSP-Check" kit was found to detect quantitatively DSP toxins in all contaminated samples containing only OA, provided that the parent toxins were within the range of detection and was not in an ester form. A good correlation was observed between the two methods when appropriate dilutions were performed. The immunoassay kit appeared to be more sensitive, specific and faster than LC-MS for determination of DSP in total shellfish extract.

Keywords: Diarrheic shellfish poisoning; Dinophysis spp.; Dinophysistoxin 2; ELISA; LC/MS; Okadaic acid; azaspiracids toxins.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bivalvia / chemistry*
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Data Collection
  • Diarrhea / chemically induced
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods*
  • Fisheries
  • Food Contamination
  • Furans / analysis
  • Furans / poisoning
  • Marine Toxins / analysis*
  • Marine Toxins / poisoning
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Morocco
  • Okadaic Acid / analysis
  • Okadaic Acid / poisoning
  • Pyrans / analysis
  • Pyrans / poisoning
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Shellfish Poisoning


  • Furans
  • Marine Toxins
  • Pyrans
  • azaspiracid-2
  • Okadaic Acid
  • dinophysistoxin 2