Mycotoxin and Gut Microbiota Interactions

Toxins (Basel). 2020 Dec 4;12(12):769. doi: 10.3390/toxins12120769.


The interactions between mycotoxins and gut microbiota were discovered early in animals and explained part of the differences in susceptibility to mycotoxins among species. Isolation of microbes present in the gut responsible for biotransformation of mycotoxins into less toxic metabolites and for binding mycotoxins led to the development of probiotics, enzymes, and cell extracts that are used to prevent mycotoxin toxicity in animals. More recently, bioactivation of mycotoxins into toxic compounds, notably through the hydrolysis of masked mycotoxins, revealed that the health benefits of the effect of the gut microbiota on mycotoxins can vary strongly depending on the mycotoxin and the microbe concerned. Interactions between mycotoxins and gut microbiota can also be observed through the effect of mycotoxins on the gut microbiota. Changes of gut microbiota secondary to mycotoxin exposure may be the consequence of the antimicrobial properties of mycotoxins or the toxic effect of mycotoxins on epithelial and immune cells in the gut, and liberation of antimicrobial peptides by these cells. Whatever the mechanism involved, exposure to mycotoxins leads to changes in the gut microbiota composition at the phylum, genus, and species level. These changes can lead to disruption of the gut barrier function and bacterial translocation. Changes in the gut microbiota composition can also modulate the toxicity of toxic compounds, such as bacterial toxins and of mycotoxins themselves. A last consequence for health of the change in the gut microbiota secondary to exposure to mycotoxins is suspected through variations observed in the amount and composition of the volatile fatty acids and sphingolipids that are normally present in the digesta, and that can contribute to the occurrence of chronic diseases in human. The purpose of this work is to review what is known about mycotoxin and gut microbiota interactions, the mechanisms involved in these interactions, and their practical application, and to identify knowledge gaps and future research needs.

Keywords: adsorption; biotransformation; gut microbiota; health; mycotoxins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Mycotoxins*


  • Mycotoxins