Our two primary goals for this test were to design a test that would be more sensitive and accurate than those currently on market as well as more affordable. We were able to achieve both of these goals with our state of the art liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) technology. Using this technology, we have a very sensitive test, which is important because mycotoxins can cause serious health issues even in small quantities. Other mycotoxin testing uses ELISA technology, which relies on antibodies. Utilization of LC-MS/MS technology gives us a precise identification of all of our analytes, which prevents having false positive errors. For many of our compounds we are able to detect amounts in the parts per trillion (ppt) which is about 100 fold better than any other test currently available.
Species of Mold
We are currently measuring eight different mycotoxins in our test, from four types of mold (we are always doing R&D on our tests in the hopes of adding even more markers in the future). This makes the GPL-MycoTOX Profile the most comprehensive test on the market and it’s the most cost-effective. Here are the four types of mold we are evaluating:
Aspergillus: Aspergillus is the most prevalent mold group in the environment. It has caused billions of dollars in damage to crops and livestock. The two most common Aspergillus mycotoxins are aflatoxin, ochratoxin, patulin, and fumigillin. The main target of these toxins is the liver. These toxins have been found in all major cereal crops including peanuts, corn, cotton, millet, rice, sorghum, sunflower seeds, wheat, and a variety of spices. They are also found in eggs, milk, and meat from animals fed contaminated grains. Diseases caused by Aspergillus are called aspergillosis. The most common route of infection is through the respiratory system. Aspergillus can cause severe asthma when the mold colonizes the lung, forming a granulomatous disease.
Penicillium: There are over 200 species of the genus Penicillium that have been discovered. Penicillium chrysogenum is the most common of these species. It is often found in indoor environments and is responsible for many allergic reactions. Penicillium is also a known contaminant in many different food items. Many different types of citrus fruits can become contaminated with Penicillium, but it can also contaminate seeds and grains. One reason that Penicillium is such a common infestation is because of its ability to thrive in low humidity. In the home, Penicillium can be found in wallpaper, carpet, furniture, and fiberglass insulation. The most common mycotoxin produced by Penicillium is ochratoxin. Ochratoxin is nephrotoxic, which means that it damages the kidneys. It is also carcinogenic.
Stachybotrys: Stachybotrys is a greenish-black mold. This mold can grow on materials with high cellulose and low nitrogen content such as gypsum board, paper, fiberboard, and ceiling tiles. Stachybotrys is known for its production of the highly toxic macrocyclic trichothecene mycotoxins. Two of the more common mycotoxins produced by Stachybotrys are roridin E and verrucarin. In addition to these mycotoxins, the fungus produces nine phenylspirodrimanes, as well as cyclosporine, which are potent immunosuppressors. These immunosuppressors, along with the mycotoxin trichothecenes may be responsible for the high toxicity of Stachybotrys.
Fusarium: Fusarium’s major mycotoxins are zearalenone (ZEN) and fumonisin. Fusarium fungi grow best in temperate climate conditions. They require lower temperatures for growth than Aspergillus. Fusarium grows worldwide on many different types of grains including corn and wheat. Exposure to mycotoxins from Fusarium can lead to both acute and chronic effects. These symptoms can include abdominal distress, malaise, diarrhea, emesis, and death. ZEN possesses estrogenic effects and has been implicated in reproductive disorders.
Markers in the GPL-MycoTOX Profile
The strains of mold we’re evaluating can produce several different mycotoxins. We have developed a test that provides extensive coverage, allowing us to catch most mold exposures.
Aflatoxin M1 (AFM1) is the main metabolite of aflatoxin B1, which is a mycotoxin produced by different species of the genus Aspergillus. Aflatoxins are some of the most carcinogenic substances in the environment. Aflatoxin susceptibility is dependent on multiple different factors such as age, sex, and diet. Aflatoxin can be found in beans, corn, rice, tree nuts, wheat, milk, eggs, and meat. In cases of lung aspergilloma, aflatoxin has been found in human tissue specimens. Aflatoxin can cause liver damage, cancer, mental impairment, abdominal pain, hemorrhaging, coma, and death. Aflatoxin has been shown to inhibit leucocyte proliferation. Clinical signs of aflatoxicosis are non-pruritic macular rash, headache, gastrointestinal dysfunction (often extreme), lower extremity edema, anemia, and jaundice. The toxicity of Aflatoxin is increased in the presence of Ochratoxin and Zearalenone.
Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a nephrotoxic, immunotoxic, and carcinogenic mycotoxin. This chemical is produced by molds in the Aspergillus and Penicillium families. Exposure is primarily through contaminated foods such as cereals, grape juices, dairy, spices, wine, dried vine fruit, and coffee. Exposure to OTA can also come from inhalation exposure in water-damaged buildings. OTA can lead to kidney disease and adverse neurological effects. Studies have shown that OTA can cause significant oxidative damage to multiple brain regions and the kidneys. Dopamine levels in the brain of mice have been shown to be decreased after exposure to OTA.
Sterigmatocystin (STG) is a mycotoxin that is closely related to aflatoxin. STG is produced from several types of mold such as Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Bipolaris. It is considered to be carcinogenic, particularly in the cells of the GI tract and liver. STG has been found in the dust from damp carpets. It is also a contaminant of many foods including grains, corn, bread, cheese, spices, coffee beans, soybeans, pistachio nuts, and animal feed. In cases of lung aspergilloma, STG has been found in human tissue specimens. The toxicity of STG affects the liver, kidneys, and immune system. Tumors have been found in the lungs of rodents that were exposed to STG. Oxidative stress becomes measurably elevated during STG exposure, which causes a depletion of antioxidants such as glutathione, particularly in the liver.
Zearalenone (ZEA) is a mycotoxin that is produced by the mold species Fusarium, and has been shown to be hepatotoxic, haematotoxic, immunotoxic, and genotoxic. ZEA is commonly found in several foods in the US, Europe, Asia, and Africa including wheat, barley, rice, and maize. ZEA has estrogenic activity and exposure to ZEA can lead to reproductive changes. ZEA’s estrogenic activity is higher than that of other non-steroidal isoflavones (compounds that have estrogen-like effects) such as soy and clover. ZEA exposure can result in thymus atrophy and alter spleen lymphocyte production as well as impaired lymphocyte immune response, which leads to patients being susceptible to disease.
Roridin E is a macrocyclic trichothecene produced by the molds Fusarium, Myrothecium, and Stachybotrys (i.e. black mold). Trichothecenes are frequently found in buildings with water damage but can also be found in contaminated grain. This is a very toxic compound, which inhibits protein biosynthesis by preventing peptidyl transferase activity. Trichothecenes are considered extremely toxic and have been used as biological warfare agents. Even low levels of exposure to macrocyclic trichothecenes can cause severe neurological damage, immunosuppression, endocrine disruption, cardiovascular problems, and gastrointestinal distress.
Verrucarin A is a macrocyclic trichothecene mycotoxin produced from Stachybotrys, Fusarium, and Myrothecium. Trichothecenes are frequently found in buildings with water damage but can also be found in contaminated grain. This is a very toxic compound, which inhibits protein biosynthesis by preventing peptidyl transferase activity. Trichothecenes are considered extremely toxic and have been used as biological warfare agents. Even low levels of exposure to macrocyclic trichothecenes can cause severe neurological damage, immunosuppression, endocrine disruption, cardiovascular problems, and gastrointestinal distress.
Enniatin B1 is a fungal metabolite categorized as a cyclohexa-depsipeptides toxin produced by thefungus Fusarium. This strain of fungus is one of the most common cereal contaminants. Grains in many different countries have recently been contaminated with high levels of Enniatin. The toxic effects of Enniatin are caused by the inhibition of the acyl-CoA cholesterol acyltransferase, depolarization of mitochondria, and inhibition of osteoclastic bone resorption. Enniatin has antibiotic properties and chronic exposure may lead to weight loss, fatigue, and liver disease.
Treatment for Mycotoxin Exposure