A recently published study by researchers at the University of Parma in Italy has identified conjugates of two mycotoxins, deoxynivalenol and zearalenone – referred to as ‘masked’ mycotoxins – as potential health risks in food and feed.
Both deoxynivalenol and zearalenone are produced as secondary metabolites by fungi of the genus Fusarium, common pathogens of cereals. The researchers say that Infected plants may protect themselves from the harmful effects of these toxins by binding them with glucose, sulphur and other compounds to form a harmless conjugate.
But the study showed that these conjugates could be broken down by bacteria in the guts of animals and humans, releasing the ‘unmasked’ original toxins. The authors conclude that these masked mycotoxins should therefore be included when estimating population exposure to these toxic compounds and that legislative limits should take them into account.
The study is published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology and an abstract can be found here.