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Concept: Aspergillus

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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.

Concepts: Aflatoxin, Mycotoxin, Aspergillus, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Ochratoxin, Mycotoxins, Stachybotrys, Mold

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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.

Concepts: DNA, Amino acid, Fungus, Aspergillus flavus, Aflatoxin, Aspergillus, Peanut, Carcinogen

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F901318 is an antifungal agent with a novel mechanism of action and potent activity against Aspergillus spp. An understanding of the pharmacodynamics (PD) of F901318 is required for selection of effective regimens for study in phase II and III clinical trials. Neutropenic murine and rabbit models of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis were used. The primary PD endpoint was serum galactomannan. The relationships between drug exposure and the impacts of dose fractionation on galactomannan, survival, and histopathology were determined. The results were benchmarked against a clinically relevant exposure of posaconazole. In the murine model, administration of a total daily dose of 24 mg/kg of body weight produced consistently better responses with increasingly fractionated regimens. The ratio of the minimum total plasma concentration/MIC (Cmin/MIC) was the PD index that best linked drug exposure with observed effect. An average Cmin (mg/liter) and Cmin/MIC of 0.3 and 9.1, respectively, resulted in antifungal effects equivalent to the effect of posaconazole at the upper boundary of its expected human exposures. This pattern was confirmed in a rabbit model, where Cmin and Cmin/MIC targets of 0.1 and 3.3, respectively, produced effects previously reported for expected human exposures of isavuconazole. These targets were independent of triazole susceptibility. The pattern of maximal effect evident with these drug exposure targets was also apparent when survival and histopathological clearance were used as study endpoints. F901318 exhibits time-dependent antifungal activity. The PD targets can now be used to select regimens for phase II and III clinical trials.IMPORTANCE Invasive fungal infections are common and often lethal. There are relatively few antifungal agents licensed for clinical use. Antifungal drug toxicity and the emergence of drug resistance make the treatment of these infections very challenging. F901318 is the first in a new class of antifungal agents called the orotomides. This class has a novel mechanism of action that involves the inhibition of the fungal enzyme dihydroorotate dehydrogenase. F901318 is being developed for clinical use. A deep understanding of the relationship between dosages, drug concentrations in the body, and the antifungal effect is fundamental to the identification of the regimens to administer to patients with invasive fungal infections. This study provides the necessary information to ensure that the right dose of F901318 is used the first time. Such an approach considerably reduces the risks in drug development programs and ensures that patients with few therapeutic options can receive potentially life-saving antifungal therapy at the earliest opportunity.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Clinical trial, Aspergillosis, Aspergillus, Antifungals, Antifungal drug, Athlete's foot, Griseofulvin

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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%.

Concepts: Fungus, Aspergillus flavus, Aflatoxin, Mycotoxin, Aspergillus, Curcuma, Turmeric, Curcumin

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In recent years, Aspergillus species are reported frequently as aetiological agents of fungal keratitis in tropical countries such as India. Our aim was to evaluate the epidemiological features of Aspergillus keratitis cases over a 3-year period in a tertiary eye care hospital and to determine the antifungal susceptibilities of the causative agents. This study included culture proven Aspergillus keratitis cases diagnosed between September 2005 and August 2008. Data including prevalence, predisposing factors and demography were recorded, the isolates were identified by morphological and molecular methods and the minimum inhibitory concentration values of antifungal agents towards the isolates were determined by the microdilution method. Two hundred Aspergillus isolates were identified among 1737 culture proven cases. Most of the aspergilli (75%) proved to be A. flavus, followed by A. fumigatus (11.5%). Sixteen (8%) isolates belonged to species that are recently identified causative agents of mycotic keratitis. Most of the infected patients (88%) were adults ranging from 21 to 70 years of age. Co-existing ocular disease was confirmed in 16.5% of the patients. Econazole, clotrimazole and ketoconazole were notably active against A. flavus. Aspergillus keratitis is a significant problem in patients with ocular lesions in South-Indian States, warranting early diagnosis and initiation of specific antifungal therapy to improve outcome.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Aspergillus flavus, Ophthalmology, Keratitis, Aspergillus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Ketoconazole, Fungal keratitis

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Aspergillosis is one of the most common causes of death in captive birds. Aspergillus fumigatus accounts for approximately 95 % of aspergillosis cases and Aspergillus flavus is the second most frequent organism associated with avian infections. In the present study, the fungi were grown from avian clinical samples (post-mortem lung material) and environmental samples (eggs, food and litter). Microsatellite markers were used to type seven clinical avian isolates and 22 environmental isolates of A. flavus. A. flavus was the only species (28 % prevalence) detected in the avian clinical isolates, whereas this species ranked third (19 %) after members of the genera Penicillium (39 %) and Cladosporium (21 %) in the environmental samples. Upon microsatellite analysis, five to eight distinct alleles were detected for each marker. The marker with the highest discriminatory power had eight alleles and a 0.852 D value. The combination of all six markers yielded a 0.991 D value with 25 distinct genotypes. One clinical avian isolate (lung biopsy) and one environmental isolate (egg) shared the same genotype. Microsatellite typing of A. flavus grown from avian and environmental samples displayed an excellent discriminatory power and 100 % reproducibility. This study showed a clustering of clinical and environmental isolates, which were clearly separated. Based upon these results, aspergillosis in birds may be induced by a great diversity of isolates.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Evolution, Biology, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus, Aspergillus fumigatus, Microsatellite

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In the present study, the antifungal effects of phenylmercuric nitrate and benzalkonium chloride versus those of natamycin and ketoconazole were assessed against 216 filamentous fungi isolates from cases of fungal keratitis. They included 112 Fusarium isolates, 94 Aspergillus isolates, and 10 Alternaria alternata isolates. The strains were tested by broth dilution antifungal susceptibility testing of filamentous fungi approved by the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute M38-A document. The results showed that the MIC(50) values of phenylmercuric nitrate were 0.0156, 0.0156, and 0.0313 μg/mL for Fusarium spp., Aspergillus spp., and A. alternata, respectively. The MIC(90) values of phenylmercuric nitrate were 0.0313, 0.0313, and 0.0313 μg/mL for Fusarium spp., Aspergillus spp., and A. alternata, respectively. The MIC(50) values of benzalkonium chloride were 16, 32, and 8 μg/mL for Fusarium spp., Aspergillus spp., and A. alternata, respectively. The MIC(90) values of benzalkonium chloride were 32, 32, and 16 μg/mL for Fusarium spp., Aspergillus spp., and A. alternata, respectively. The study indicates that phenylmercuric nitrate has considerable antifungal activity and its effect is significantly superior to those of benzalkonium chloride, natamycin, and ketoconazole against ocular pathogenic filamentous fungi in vitro, deserving further investigation for treating fungal keratitis as a main drug.

Concepts: Fungus, Mycotoxin, Aspergillus, Ascomycota, Aspergillus oryzae, Fungi, Alternaria alternata, Chlorides

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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.

Concepts: Fungus, Aspergillus flavus, Aflatoxin, Mycotoxin, Aspergillus, Ascomycota, Penicillium, Mold

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d-Galacturonic acid, the main monomer of pectin, is an attractive substrate for bioconversions, since pectin-rich biomass is abundantly available and pectin is easily hydrolyzed. l-Galactonic acid is an intermediate in the eukaryotic pathway for d-galacturonic acid catabolism, but extracellular accumulation of l-galactonic acid has not been reported. By deleting the gene encoding l-galactonic acid dehydratase (lgd1 or gaaB) in two filamentous fungi, strains were obtained that converted d-galacturonic acid to l-galactonic acid. Both Trichoderma reesei Δlgd1 and Aspergillus niger ΔgaaB strains produced l-galactonate at yields of 0.6 to 0.9 g per g of substrate consumed. Although T. reesei Δlgd1 could produce l-galactonate at pH 5.5, a lower pH was necessary for A. niger ΔgaaB. Provision of a cosubstrate improved the production rate and titer in both strains. Intracellular accumulation of l-galactonate (40 to 70 mg g biomass(-1)) suggested that export may be limiting. Deletion of the l-galactonate dehydratase from A. niger was found to delay induction of d-galacturonate reductase and overexpression of the reductase improved initial production rates. Deletion of the l-galactonate dehydratase from A. niger also delayed or prevented induction of the putative d-galacturonate transporter An14g04280. In addition, A. niger ΔgaaB produced l-galactonate from polygalacturonate as efficiently as from the monomer.

Concepts: Enzyme, Fungus, PH, Citric acid, Aspergillus, Aspergillus niger, Trichoderma reesei, Pectinase

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A microphotoreactor device was developed to generate bubbles (1.4 mm diameter, 90 μL) containing singlet oxygen at levels toxic to bacteria and fungus. As singlet oxygen decays rapidly to triplet oxygen, the bubbles leave behind no waste or byproducts other than O(2). From a comparative study in deaerated, air saturated, and oxygenated solutions, it was reasoned that the singlet oxygen bubbles inactivate Escherichia coli and Aspergillus fumigatus, mainly by an oxygen gradient inside and outside of the bubble such that singlet oxygen is solvated and diffuses through the aqueous solution until it reacts with the target organism. Thus, singlet oxygen bubble toxicity was inversely proportional to the amount of dissolved oxygen in solution. In a second mechanism, singlet oxygen interacts directly with E. coli that accumulate at the gas-liquid interface although this mechanism operates at a rate approximately 10 times slower. Due to encapsulation in the gaseous core of the bubble and a 0.98 ms lifetime, the bubbles can traverse relatively long 0.39 mm distances carrying (1)O(2) far into the solution; by comparison the diffusion distance of (1)O(2) fully solvated in H(2)O is much shorter (∼150 nm). Bubbles that reached the outer air-water interface contained no (1)O(2). The mechanism by which (1)O(2) deactivated organisms was explored through the addition of detergent molecules and Ca(2+) ions. Results indicate that the preferential accumulation of E. coli at the air-water interface of the bubble leads to enhanced toxicity of bubbles containing (1)O(2). The singlet oxygen device offers intriguing possibilities for creating new types of disinfection strategies based on photodynamic ((1)O(2)) bubble carriers.

Concepts: Oxygen, Bacteria, Gut flora, Escherichia coli, Chemistry, Aspergillus, Singlet oxygen, Triplet oxygen