Effect of dietary honey on intestinal microflora and toxicity of mycotoxins in mice

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006 Mar 14;6:6. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-6-6.


Background: Bee honey is a functional food which has a unique composition, antimicrobial properties and bifidogenic effect. In order to assess whether honey can inhibit the toxic effect of mycotoxins, the present study was undertaken.

Methods: Production of biomass and toxins by Aspergillus parasiticus and Aspergillus ochraceus were followed in media without and with honey. Although aflatoxins and ochratoxin A. were administrated to male Swiss albino mice up to 1 mug and 10 ng/kg body weight/day respectively. The experimental animals were fed diets without our with 10% honey for two months. The changes in colonic probiotic bacteria, determintal colon enzyme glucuronidases, and genotoxicity were followed.

Results: Addition of 32% in its media increased the biomass of A parasiticus, while the biomass of A. ochraceus decreased and Ochratoxin A. was not produced. When the honey was added at the ratio of 32 and 48% in the medium. No relationship was found between mycelium weight and production of mycotoxins. Oral administration of aflatoxins (mixture of B1, B2, G1 and G2) and Ochratoxin A. induced structural and numerical chromosomal aberrations in bone marrow and germ cells of male mice, whereas, honey treatment reduced the genotoxicity of mycotoxins. Also both toxins induced histopathological changes in liver and kidney. Feeding on diet supplemented with honey improved the histopathological changes in case of aflatoxin group, but not in the case of ochratoxin A. group (except of kidney in two cases). No significant differences were found in the activity of colon beta-glucuronidase between group fed diet with or without honey. On the other hand, the colon bifido bacteria and lactobacilli counts were increased markedly in group receiving diet supplemented with honey.

Conclusion: Substituting sugars with honey in processed food can inhibit the harmful and genotoxic effects of mycotoxins, and improve the gut microflora.

MeSH terms

  • Aflatoxins / biosynthesis
  • Animals
  • Aspergillus / metabolism
  • Bifidobacterium / enzymology
  • Bifidobacterium / isolation & purification
  • Chromosome Aberrations / chemically induced
  • Colon / microbiology*
  • Ergotism / diet therapy
  • Ergotism / pathology
  • Ergotism / prevention & control*
  • Fibrosis / prevention & control
  • Glucuronidase / metabolism
  • Honey*
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Lactobacillus / enzymology
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Mycotoxins / toxicity*
  • Ochratoxins
  • Random Allocation


  • Aflatoxins
  • Mycotoxins
  • Ochratoxins
  • ochratoxin A
  • Glucuronidase