The Compromised Intestinal Barrier Induced by Mycotoxins

Toxins (Basel). 2020 Sep 28;12(10):619. doi: 10.3390/toxins12100619.


Mycotoxins are fungal metabolites that occur in human foods and animal feeds, potentially threatening human and animal health. The intestine is considered as the first barrier against these external contaminants, and it consists of interconnected physical, chemical, immunological, and microbial barriers. In this context, based on in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo models, we summarize the literature for compromised intestinal barrier issues caused by various mycotoxins, and we reviewed events related to disrupted intestinal integrity (physical barrier), thinned mucus layer (chemical barrier), imbalanced inflammatory factors (immunological barrier), and dysfunctional bacterial homeostasis (microbial barrier). We also provide important information on deoxynivalenol, a leading mycotoxin implicated in intestinal dysfunction, and other adverse intestinal effects induced by other mycotoxins, including aflatoxins and ochratoxin A. In addition, intestinal perturbations caused by mycotoxins may also contribute to the development of mycotoxicosis, including human chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases. Therefore, we provide a clear understanding of compromised intestinal barrier induced by mycotoxins, with a view to potentially develop innovative strategies to prevent and treat mycotoxicosis. In addition, because of increased combinatorial interactions between mycotoxins, we explore the interactive effects of multiple mycotoxins in this review.

Keywords: interactive effects; intestinal barrier; intestinal inflammation; mycotoxins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / microbiology
  • Animals
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dysbiosis
  • Food Microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal / drug effects
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Mucins / metabolism
  • Mycotoxins / toxicity*
  • Permeability
  • Pore Forming Cytotoxic Proteins / metabolism
  • Risk Assessment


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Mucins
  • Mycotoxins
  • Pore Forming Cytotoxic Proteins