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Ciguatera is the most frequently observed form of tropical fish poisoning. It appears as a syndrome associating general signs, gastrointestinal, cardiac and neurological problems. Peripheral and central nervous system signs may be observed. We report a case of a 60-year-old man who developed Ciguatera poisoning with diarrhea, facial paresthesia, myalgia, cramps and weakness. Physical examination revealed a motor distal deficit of the four limbs, myokymia and ataxia. EMG testing was in favor of an axonal neuropathy. Neurologic symptoms persisted for two months. This case illustrates a new pathophysiological mechanism of neuropathy: “axonal channelopathy”. Abnormalities of peripheral nerve sodium and potassium channels result in clinical and electrophysiological manifestations unrelated to axonal degeneration or demyelinization. The ciguatoxin mainly acts on sodium channels. Prolonged sodium channel activation results in repetitive axon firing. Recently ciguatoxin was demonstrated to have a novel action, blocking the sodium channel leading to slowed nerve conduction and decreased motor and sensory action potential amplitudes.
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Document Type: Abstract

Affiliations: Revue Neurologique 156: 514–516, 2000. Reprinted with permission from Masson Editeur.

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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