Mycotoxins are secondary fungal metabolites, toxic to humans, animals and plants. Under the influence of various factors, mycotoxins may undergo modifications of their chemical structure. One of the methods of mycotoxin modification is a transformation occurring in plant cells or under the influence of fungal enzymes. This paper reviews the current knowledge on the natural occurrence of the most important trichothecenes and zearalenone in cereals/cereal products, their metabolism, and the potential toxicity of the metabolites. Only very limited data are available for the majority of the identified mycotoxins. Most studies concern biologically modified trichothecenes, mainly deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside, which is less toxic than its parent compound (deoxynivalenol). It is resistant to the digestion processes within the gastrointestinal tract and is not absorbed by the intestinal epithelium; however, it may be hydrolysed to free deoxynivalenol or deepoxy-deoxynivalenol by the intestinal microflora. Only one zearalenone derivative, zearalenone-14-glucoside, has been extensively studied. It appears to be more reactive than deoxynivalenol-3-glucoside. It may be readily hydrolysed to free zearalenone, and the carbonyl group in its molecule may be easily reduced to α/β-zearalenol and/or other unspecified metabolites. Other derivatives of deoxynivalenol and zearalenone are poorly characterised. Moreover, other derivatives such as glycosides of T-2 and HT-2 toxins have only recently been investigated; thus, the data related to their toxicological profile and occurrence are sporadic. The topics described in this study are crucial to ensure food and feed safety, which will be assisted by the provision of widespread access to such studies and obtained results.
Keywords: cereals; modified mycotoxins; occurrence; toxicity.