Mycotoxin detection in human samples from patients exposed to environmental molds

Int J Mol Sci. 2009 Apr 1;10(4):1465-75. doi: 10.3390/ijms10041465.


The goal of this study was to determine if selected mycotoxins (trichothecenes, aflatoxins, and ochratoxins) could be extracted and identified in human tissue and body fluids from patients exposed to toxin producing molds in their environment. Human urine and methanol extracted tissues and sputum were examined. Trichothecenes were tested using competitive ELISA techniques. Aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, and G2, and ochratoxin A were tested by using immunoaffinity columns and fluorometry. Test sensitivity and specificity were determined. Levels of detection for the various mycotoxins varied from 0.2 ppb for trichothecenes, 1.0 ppb for aflatoxins, and 2.0 ppb for ochratoxins. Trichothecene levels varied in urine, sputum, and tissue biopsies (lung, liver, brain) from undetectable (<0.2 ppb) to levels up to 18 ppb. Aflatoxin levels from the same types of tissues varied from 1.0 to 5.0 ppb. Ochratoxins isolated in the same type of tissues varied from 2.0 ppb to > 10.0 ppb. Negative control patients had no detectable mycotoxins in their tissues or fluids. These data show that mycotoxins can be detected in body fluids and human tissue from patients exposed to mycotoxin producing molds in the environment, and demonstrate which human tissues or fluids are the most likely to yield positive results.

Keywords: Aflatoxin; human samples; ochratoxin; trichothecene.

MeSH terms

  • Aflatoxins / analysis
  • Aflatoxins / urine
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Fluorometry
  • Fungi / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mycotoxins / analysis*
  • Mycotoxins / urine
  • Nasal Lavage Fluid / chemistry
  • Ochratoxins / analysis
  • Ochratoxins / urine
  • Sputum / chemistry
  • Trichothecenes / analysis
  • Trichothecenes / urine


  • Aflatoxins
  • Mycotoxins
  • Ochratoxins
  • Trichothecenes