The effects of fungal volatile organic compounds on bone marrow stromal cells

Can J Microbiol. 2014 Jan;60(1):1-4. doi: 10.1139/cjm-2013-0708. Epub 2013 Nov 15.


Evidence has shown that individuals exposed to indoor toxic molds for extended periods of time have elevated risk of developing numerous respiratory illnesses. It is not clear at the cellular level what impact mold exposure has on the immune system. Herein, we show that 2 fungal volatiles (E)-2-octenal and oct-1-en-3-ol have cytotoxic effects on murine bone marrow stromal cells. To further analyze alterations to the cell, we evaluated the impact these volatile organic compounds have on membrane composition and hence fluidity. Both (E)-2-octenal and oct-1-en-3-ol exposure caused a shift to unsaturated fatty acids and lower cholesterol levels in the membrane. This indicates that the volatile organic compounds under investigation increased membrane fluidity. These vast changes to the cell membrane are known to contribute to the breakdown of normal cell function and possibly lead to death. Since bone marrow stromal cells are vital for the appropriate development and activation of immune cells, this study provides the foundation for understanding the mechanism at a cellular level for how mold exposure can lead to immune-related disease conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Air Microbiology*
  • Aldehydes / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Fungi / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Fluidity / drug effects
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Octanols / toxicity*
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / toxicity*


  • Aldehydes
  • Octanols
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • 2-octenal
  • 1-octen-3-ol