Over the past 20 years, exposure to mycotoxin producing mold has been recognized as a significant health risk. Scientific literature has demonstrated mycotoxins as possible causes of human disease in water-damaged buildings (WDB). This study was conducted to determine if selected mycotoxins could be identified in human urine from patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Patients (n = 112) with a prior diagnosis of CFS were evaluated for mold exposure and the presence of mycotoxins in their urine. Urine was tested for aflatoxins (AT), ochratoxin A (OTA) and macrocyclic trichothecenes (MT) using Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA). Urine specimens from 104 of 112 patients (93%) were positive for at least one mycotoxin (one in the equivocal range). Almost 30% of the cases had more than one mycotoxin present. OTA was the most prevalent mycotoxin detected (83%) with MT as the next most common (44%). Exposure histories indicated current and/or past exposure to WDB in over 90% of cases. Environmental testing was performed in the WDB from a subset of these patients. This testing revealed the presence of potentially mycotoxin producing mold species and mycotoxins in the environment of the WDB. Prior testing in a healthy control population with no history of exposure to a WDB or moldy environment (n = 55) by the same laboratory, utilizing the same methods, revealed no positive cases at the limits of detection.
Aflatoxins (AFs) are highly carcinogenic compounds produced by Aspergillus species in seeds with high lipid and protein contents. It has been known for over 30 years that peptone is not conducive for AF productions, although reasons for this remain unknown.
Ruminant diets include cereals, protein feeds, their by-products as well as hay and grass, grass/legume, whole-crop maize, small grain or sorghum silages. Furthermore, ruminants are annually or seasonally fed with grazed forage in many parts of the World. All these forages could be contaminated by several exometabolites of mycotoxigenic fungi that increase and diversify the risk of mycotoxin exposure in ruminants compared to swine and poultry that have less varied diets. Evidence suggests the greatest exposure for ruminants to some regulated mycotoxins (aflatoxins, trichothecenes, ochratoxin A, fumonisins and zearalenone) and to many other secondary metabolites produced by different species of Alternaria spp. (e.g., AAL toxins, alternariols, tenuazonic acid or 4Z-infectopyrone), Aspergillus flavus (e.g., kojic acid, cyclopiazonic acid or β-nitropropionic acid), Aspergillus fuminatus (e.g., gliotoxin, agroclavine, festuclavines or fumagillin), Penicillium roqueforti and P. paneum (e.g., mycophenolic acid, roquefortines, PR toxin or marcfortines) or Monascus ruber (citrinin and monacolins) could be mainly related to forage contamination. This review includes the knowledge of mycotoxin occurrence reported in the last 15 years, with special emphasis on mycotoxins detected in forages, and animal toxicological issues due to their ingestion. Strategies for preventing the problem of mycotoxin feed contamination under farm conditions are discussed.
Aflatoxin, a mycotoxin found commonly in maize and peanuts worldwide, is associated with liver cancer, acute toxicosis, and growth impairment in humans and animals. In Tanzania, sunflower seeds are a source of snacks, cooking oil, and animal feed. These seeds are a potential source of aflatoxin contamination. However, reports on aflatoxin contamination in sunflower seeds and cakes are scarce. The objective of the current study was to determine total aflatoxin concentrations in sunflower seeds and cakes from small-scale oil processors across Tanzania. Samples of sunflower seeds (n = 90) and cakes (n = 92) were collected across two years, and analyzed for total aflatoxin concentrations using a direct competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). For seed samples collected June-August 2014, the highest aflatoxin concentrations were from Dodoma (1.7-280.6 ng/g), Singida (1.4-261.8 ng/g), and Babati-Manyara (1.8-162.0 ng/g). The highest concentrations for cakes were from Mbeya (2.8-97.7 ng/g), Dodoma (1.9-88.2 ng/g), and Singida (2.0-34.3 ng/g). For seed samples collected August-October 2015, the highest concentrations were from Morogoro (2.8-662.7 ng/g), Singida (1.6-217.6 ng/g) and Mbeya (1.4-174.2 ng/g). The highest concentrations for cakes were from Morogoro (2.7-536.0 ng/g), Dodoma (1.4-598.4 ng/g) and Singida (3.2-52.8 ng/g). In summary, humans and animals are potentially at high risk of exposure to aflatoxins through sunflower seeds and cakes from micro-scale millers in Tanzania; and location influences risk.
Aflatoxin contamination in peanuts poses major challenges for vulnerable populations of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Developing peanut varieties to combat pre-harvest Aspergillus flavus infection and resulting aflatoxin contamination has thus far remained a major challenge, confounded by highly complex peanut-Aspergilli pathosystem. Our study reports achieving high level of resistance in peanut by over expressing (OE) antifungal plant defensins MsDef1 and MtDef4.2, and through host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) of aflM and aflP genes from the aflatoxin biosynthetic pathway. While the former improves genetic resistance to A. flavus infection, the latter inhibits aflatoxin production in the event of infection providing durable resistance against different Aspergillus flavus morphotypes and negligible aflatoxin content in several peanut events/ lines well. A strong positive correlation was observed between aflatoxin accumulation and decline in transcription of the aflatoxin biosynthetic pathway genes in both OE-Def and HIGS lines. Transcriptomic signatures in the resistant lines revealed key mechanisms such as regulation of aflatoxin synthesis, its packaging and export control, besides the role of reactive oxygen species-scavenging enzymes that render enhanced protection in the OE and HIGS lines. This is the first study to demonstrate highly effective biotechnological strategies for successfully generating peanuts that are near-immune to aflatoxin contamination, offering a panacea for serious food safety, health and trade issues in the semi-arid regions. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Mycotoxins are toxic and carcinogenic metabolites produced by fungi that colonize food crops. The most agriculturally important mycotoxins known today are aflatoxins, which cause liver cancer and have also been implicated in child growth impairment and acute toxicoses; fumonisins, which have been associated with esophageal cancer (EC) and neural tube defects (NTDs); deoxynivalenol (DON) and other trichothecenes, which are immunotoxic and cause gastroenteritis; and ochratoxin A (OTA), which has been associated with renal diseases. This review describes the adverse human health impacts associated with these major groups of mycotoxins. First, we provide background on the fungi that produce these different mycotoxins and on the food crops commonly infected. Then, we describe each group of mycotoxins in greater detail, as well as the adverse effects associated with each mycotoxin and the populations worldwide at risk. We conclude with a brief discussion on estimations of global burden of disease caused by dietary mycotoxin exposure. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Food Science and Technology Volume 5 is February 28, 2014. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
Aflatoxins are highly toxic, mutagenic, teratogenic and carcinogenic mycotoxins. Consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated food and commodities poses serious hazards to the health of humans and animals. Turmeric, Curcuma longa L., is a native plant of Southeast Asia and has antimicrobial, antioxidant and antifungal properties. This paper reports the antiaflatoxigenic activities of the essential oil of C. longa and curcumin. The medium tests were prepared with the oil of C. longa, and the curcumin standard at concentrations varied from 0.01% to 5.0%. All doses of the essential oil of the plant and the curcumin standard interfered with mycotoxin production. Both the essential oil and curcumin significantly inhibited the production of aflatoxins; the 0.5% level had a greater than 96% inhibitory effect. The levels of aflatoxin B(1) (AFB(1)) production were 1.0 and 42.7 μg/mL, respectively, for the samples treated with the essential oil of C. longa L. and curcumin at a concentration of 0.5%.
Red rice is a fermented product of Monascus spp. It is widely consumed by Malaysian Chinese who believe in its pharmacological properties. The traditional method of red rice preparation disregards safety regulation and renders red rice susceptible to fungal infestation and mycotoxin contamination. A preliminary study was undertaken aiming to determine the occurrence of mycotoxigenic fungi and mycotoxins contamination on red rice at consumer level in Selangor, Malaysia. Fifty red rice samples were obtained and subjected to fungal isolation, enumeration, and identification. Citrinin, aflatoxin, and ochratoxin-A were quantitated by ELISA based on the presence of predominant causal fungi. Fungal loads of 1.4 × 10(4) to 2.1 × 10(6) CFU/g exceeded Malaysian limits. Monascus spp. as starter fungi were present in 50 samples (100 %), followed by Penicillium chrysogenum (62 %), Aspergillus niger (54 %), and Aspergillus flavus (44 %). Citrinin was present in 100 % samples (0.23-20.65 mg/kg), aflatoxin in 92 % samples (0.61-77.33 μg/kg) and Ochratoxin-A in 100 % samples (0.23-2.48 μg/kg); 100 % citrinin and 76.09 % aflatoxin exceeded Malaysian limits. The presence of mycotoxigenic fungi served as an indicator of mycotoxins contamination and might imply improper production, handling, transportation, and storage of red rice. Further confirmatory analysis (e.g., HPLC) is required to verify the mycotoxins level in red rice samples and to validate the safety status of red rice.
Aspergillus parasiticus produces the minor aflatoxins M(1) (AFM(1)), M(2) (AFM(2)), GM(1) (AFGM(1)), and GM(2) (AFGM(2)), as well as the major aflatoxins B(1) (AFB(1)), B(2) (AFB(2)), G(1) (AFG(1)), and G(2) (AFG(2)). Feeding of A. parasiticus with aspertoxin (12c-hydroxyOMST) caused AFM(1) and AFGM(1), and cell-free experiments using the microsomal fraction of A. parasiticus and aspertoxin caused production of AFM(1), indicating that aspertoxin is a precursor of AFM(1) and AFGM(1). Feeding of the same fungus with O-methylsterigmatocystin (OMST) caused AFM(1) and AFGM(1) together with AFB(1) and AFG(1); feeding with dihydroOMST (DHOMST) caused AFM(2) and AFGM(2) together with AFB(2) and AFG(2). Incubation of either the microsomal fraction or OrdA enzyme-expressing yeast with OMST caused production of aspertoxin together with AFM(1) and AFB(1). These results demonstrated that the OrdA enzyme catalyzes both 12c-hydroxylation reaction from OMST to aspertoxin and the successive reaction from aspertoxin to AFM(1). In contrast, feeding of the fungus with AFB(1) did not produce any AFM(1), demonstrating that M-/GM-aflatoxins are not produced from B-/G-aflatoxins. Furthermore, AFM(1) together with AFB(1) and AFG(1) was also produced from 11-hydroxyOMST (HOMST) in feeding experiment of A. parasiticus, whereas no aflatoxins were produced when used the ordA deletion mutant. These results demonstrated that OrdA enzyme can also catalyze 12c-hydroxylation of HOMST to produce 11-hydroxyaspertoxin, which serves as a precursor for the production of AFM(1) and AFGM(1). The same pathway may work for the production of AFM(2) and AFGM(2) from DHOMST and dihydroHOMST through the formation of dihydroaspertoxin and dihydro-11-hydroxyaspertoxin, respectively.
Bisphenol A has been widely used in plastic containers and this has raised safety concerns for fetuses, infants, and young children. Aflatoxin B1, ochratoxin A, and patulin are among the most toxic regulated mycotoxins found as contaminants in agricultural crops and animal products. To facilitate the analysis of these chemicals for regulatory purposes, we have developed an analytical method enabling their simultaneous detection in beverages and food products.