In vitro effects of Fusarium toxins, enniatins, found in domestic cereals

13.2.2017 08:57

The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira has completed a study of the cytotoxic effects of enniatins, a type of mycotoxin produced by Fusarium fungi. Cell culture assays were used to study the toxicity and effects of enniatins, which are often found in low concentrations in domestic cereals. The results showed that enniatins disrupt cellular energy production and cell division. However, it is unlikely that low concentrations would cause sudden health effects in humans or production animals.

Exposure to even a small amount of enniatin B affected cellular energy production by radically reducing the production of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the main energy source for cells, produced by mitochondria through cellular respiration. A clear connection between enniatin B and cellular energy production was also indicated by gene expression assays.

"The effects of enniatin B on cellular energy metabolism, cell proliferation, cell division and cell death were studied in the mouse cell line Balb 3T3 and human hepatic cell line HepG2. In addition, whole genome expression profiling was used to study the mechanisms of action of enniatin B in rat hepatic cells. The effects were found to influence the production of the electron transport chain enzyme Complex I, involved in cellular respiration. Simultaneously, cell proliferation and cell division also reduced significantly, while the occurrence of cell death increased slightly", says Researcher Martina Jonsson of Evira.

Fusarium red mold is a common plant pathogen, found almost all over the world. European cereals are particularly susceptible to Fusarium infections.

In addition to plant diseases, Fusarium molds cause financial losses through mycotoxin production. Some mycotoxins may be harmful to production animals and humans because they can cause symptoms in the intestinal, immune and nervous systems, as well as hormonal dysfunctions and even cancer.

More detailed information on the study's results is available in
Jonsson, M., Jestoi, M., Anthoni, M., Welling, A., Loivamaa, I., Hallikainen, V., Kankainen, M., Lysoe, E., Koivisto, P., Peltonen, K. Fusarium mycotoxin enniatin B: cytotoxic effects and changes in gene expression profile. Toxicology In Vitro 2016: 34, pp. 309 - 320.

The study was mainly funded by the Academy of Finland.

For further information, please contact:
Martina Jonsson, Researcher, Chemistry, Laboratory Services, contaminants and residues,

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