MycoTOX Profile (Mold Exposure) (11)
MycoTOX Profile (Mold Exposure)
Mycotoxins (toxins from mold) are some of the most prevalent toxins in the environment. Mycotoxins are metabolites produced by fungi like mold, which can infest buildings, vehicles, and foodstuffs. Most mycotoxin exposures in North America, Europe, and Australia are through airborne exposure. Food may be a major source of mycotoxins in third-world nations that lack government inspection of foods, especially the grains such as rice, corn, wheat, rye, and barley. Many grains that are harvested have been found to be contaminated with mycotoxins but little of such harvests are discarded and are frequently sold for animal feeds such as dog food or feed for cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and horses.
Fungi can grow on almost any surface, especially if the environment is warm and wet. Inner wall materials of buildings, wallpaper, fiber glass insulation, ceiling tiles, and gypsum support are all good surfaces for fungi to colonize. These fungi then release mycotoxins into the environment causing symptoms of many different chronic diseases. Diseases and symptoms linked to mycotoxin exposure include fever, pneumonia-like symptoms, heart disease, rheumatic disease, asthma, sinusitis, cancer, memory loss, vision loss, chronic fatigue, skin rashes, depression, ADHD, anxiety, and liver damage. With the MycoTOX Profile we can identify mycotoxin exposures and make recommendations for detoxification treatments that have been effective.
Our primary goals for this test were to design a test that would be more sensitive and accurate as well as more affordable than those currently on the market. We were able to achieve these goals with our state-of-the-art liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) technology. Using this technology, we have a very sensitive test, which is important because mycotoxins can cause serious health issues even in small quantities. Other mycotoxin testing uses ELISA technology, which relies on antibodies. In addition, all the results from urine tests performed at The Great Plains Laboratory are corrected for differences in fluid intake using the technique called creatinine correction. Failure to use creatinine correction can lead to a thirty-fold variation in the concentration of the mycotoxins when there is variation in fluid intake. Utilization of LC-MS/MS technology gives us a precise identification of all our analytes, which prevents having false positive errors. For many of our compounds we can detect amounts in the parts per trillion (ppt) which is about 100-fold better than any other test currently available.
ADVANTAGES OF THE MYCOTOX PROFILE
MycoTOX screens for eleven different mycotoxins, from 40 species of mold, in one urine sample.
MycoTOX is the most comprehensive and competitively priced mycotoxin test available.
MycoTOX uses the power of advanced mass spectrometry (MS/MS), which is necessary to detect lower levels of these fungal toxins. This test is optimal for follow up testing to ensure that detoxification therapies have been successful.
MycoTOX pairs perfectly with the Organic Acids Test (OAT), GPL-TOX (Toxic Non-Metal Chemical Profile), Phospholipase A2 Activity Test, and the Glyphosate Test. This gives you comprehensive testing to assess exposure to common environmental toxins and the damage that can be caused by this exposure, all at a great value, and all from one urine sample.
GENERA OF MOLD TESTED BY THE MYCOTOX PROFILE
We are currently measuring 11 different mycotoxins in our test from a wide variety of 13 mold types (genera) including Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium, Myrothecium, Stachybotrys, Bipolaris, Gibberella, Chaetomium, Trichoderma, Trichothecium, Cephalosporium, Verticimonosporium, and Monascus. Since each of these genera contain multiple species, the MycoTOX Profile is likely to detect hundreds of mold species. In addition, poisonous mushrooms also produce some of the same mycotoxins as the molds. This makes the MycoTOX Profile the most comprehensive test on the market and it is the most cost-effective.
Aspergillus is the most prevalent mold group in the environment and there are hundreds of different species. It has caused billions of dollars in damage to crops and livestock. Common Aspergillus mycotoxins that are tested in the MycoTOX Profile include aflatoxin, ochratoxin, sterigmatocystin, gliotoxin, and citrinin. The main target of these toxins is the liver. These toxins have been found in all major cereal crops including peanuts, corn, cotton, millet, rice, sorghum, sunflower seeds, wheat, and a variety of spices. They are also found in eggs, milk, and meat from animals fed contaminated grains. Diseases caused by Aspergillus are called aspergillosis. The most common route of infection is through the respiratory system. Aspergillus can cause severe asthma when the mold colonizes the lung, forming a granulomatous disease.
There are over 200 species of the genus Penicillium that have been discovered. Penicillium chrysogenum is the most common of these species. It is often found in indoor environments and is responsible for many allergic reactions. Penicillium is also a known contaminant in many different food items. Many different types of citrus fruits can become contaminated with Penicillium, but it can also contaminate seeds and grains. One reason that Penicillium is such a common infestation is because of its ability to thrive in low humidity. In the home, Penicillium can be found in wallpaper, carpet, furniture, and fiberglass insulation. The most common mycotoxin produced by Penicillium is ochratoxin. Ochratoxin is nephrotoxic, which means that it damages the kidneys. It is also carcinogenic.
Stachybotrys is a greenish-black mold. This mold can grow on materials with high cellulose and low nitrogen content such as gypsum board, paper, fiberboard, and ceiling tiles. Stachybotrys is known for its production of the highly toxic macrocyclic trichothecene mycotoxins. Two of the more common mycotoxins produced by Stachybotrys are roridin E and verrucarin. In addition to these mycotoxins, the fungus produces nine phenylspirodrimanes, as well as cyclosporine, which are potent immunosuppressors. These immunosuppressors, along with the mycotoxin trichothecenes may be responsible for the high toxicity of Stachybotrys.
Fusarium’s major mycotoxins are zearalenone (ZEN) and fumonisin. Fusarium fungi grow best in temperate climate conditions. They require lower temperatures for growth than Aspergillus. Fusarium grows worldwide on many different types of grains including corn and wheat. Exposure to mycotoxins from Fusarium can lead to both acute and chronic effects. These symptoms can include abdominal distress, malaise, diarrhea, emesis, and death. ZEN possesses estrogenic effects and has been implicated in reproductive disorders.
MARKERS IN THE MYCOTOX PROFILE
The strains of molds we evaluate can produce many different mycotoxins. We have developed a test that provides extensive coverage, allowing us to detect most mold exposures.
AFLATOXIN M1 (AFM1)
Aflatoxin M1 (AFM1) is the main metabolite of aflatoxin B1, which is a mycotoxin produced by different species of the genus Aspergillus. Aflatoxins are some of the most carcinogenic substances in the environment. Aflatoxin susceptibility is dependent on multiple different factors such as age, sex, and diet. Aflatoxin can be found in beans, corn, rice, tree nuts, wheat, milk, eggs, and meat. In cases of lung aspergilloma, aflatoxin has been found in human tissue specimens. Aflatoxin can cause liver damage, cancer, mental impairment, abdominal pain, hemorrhaging, coma, and death. Aflatoxin has been shown to inhibit leucocyte proliferation. Clinical signs of aflatoxicosis are non-pruritic macular rash, headache, gastrointestinal dysfunction (often extreme), lower extremity edema, anemia, and jaundice. The toxicity of aflatoxin is increased in the presence of ochratoxin and zearalenone.
OCHRATOXIN A (OTA)
Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a nephrotoxic, immunotoxic, and carcinogenic mycotoxin. This chemical is produced by molds in the Aspergillus and Penicillium families. Exposure is primarily through contaminated foods such as cereals, grape juices, dairy, spices, wine, dried vine fruit, and coffee. Exposure to OTA can also come from inhalation exposure in water-damaged buildings. OTA can lead to kidney disease and adverse neurological effects. Studies have shown that OTA can cause significant oxidative damage to multiple brain regions and the kidneys. Dopamine levels in the brain of mice have been shown to be decreased after exposure to OTA.
Sterigmatocystin (STG) is a mycotoxin that is closely related to aflatoxin. STG is produced from several types of mold such as Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Bipolaris. It is carcinogenic, particularly in the cells of the GI tract and liver. STG has been found in the dust from damp carpets. It is also a contaminant of many foods including grains, corn, bread, cheese, spices, coffee beans, soybeans, pistachio nuts, and animal feed. In cases of lung aspergilloma, STG has been found in human tissue specimens. The toxicity of STG affects the liver, kidneys, and immune system. Tumors have been found in the lungs of rodents that were exposed to STG. Oxidative stress becomes measurably elevated during STG exposure, which causes a depletion of antioxidants such as glutathione, particularly in the liver.
Zearalenone (ZEA) is a mycotoxin that is produced by species of the mold genera Fusarium and Gibberella. It has been shown to be hepatotoxic, hematotoxic, immunotoxic, and genotoxic. ZEA is commonly found in several foods in the US, Europe, Asia, and Africa including wheat, barley, rice, and maize. ZEA has estrogenic activity and exposure to ZEA can lead to reproductive changes. ZEA’s estrogenic activity is higher than that of other non-steroidal isoflavones (compounds that have estrogen-like effects) such as soy and clover. ZEA exposure can result in thymus atrophy and alter spleen lymphocyte production as well as impaired lymphocyte immune response, which leads to patients being susceptible to disease.
Roridin E is a macrocyclic trichothecene produced by the mold genera Fusarium, Myrothecium, Trichoderma, Trichothecium, Cephalosporium, Verticimonosporium, and Stachybotrys (i.e. black mold). Trichothecenes are frequently found in buildings with water damage but can also be found in contaminated grain. This is a very toxic compound, which inhibits protein biosynthesis by preventing peptidyl transferase activity. Trichothecenes are considered extremely toxic and have been used as biological warfare agents. Even low levels of exposure to macrocyclic trichothecenes can cause severe neurological damage, immunosuppression, endocrine disruption, cardiovascular problems, and gastrointestinal distress.
Verrucarin A is a macrocyclic trichothecene mycotoxin produced from Stachybotrys, Fusarium, and Myrothecium molds. Trichothecenes are frequently found in buildings with water damage but can also be found in contaminated grain. This is a very toxic compound, which inhibits protein biosynthesis by preventing peptidyl transferase activity. Trichothecenes are considered extremely toxic and have been used as biological warfare agents. Even low levels of exposure to macrocyclic trichothecenes can cause severe neurological damage, immunosuppression, endocrine disruption, cardiovascular problems, and gastrointestinal distress.
Enniatin B1 is a fungal metabolite categorized as a cyclohexa-depsipeptides toxin produced by the molds of the Fusarium species. These species are common cereal contaminants. Grains in many different countries have recently been contaminated with high levels of enniatin. The toxic effects of enniatin are caused by the inhibition of the acyl-CoA cholesterol acyltransferase, depolarization of mitochondria, and inhibition of osteoclastic bone resorption. Enniatin has antibiotic properties and chronic exposure may lead to weight loss, fatigue, and liver disease.
Gliotoxin (GTX) is produced by the mold genus Aspergillus and perhaps Candida species. Aspergillus spreads in the environment by releasing conidia which are capable of infiltrating the small alveolar airways of individuals. To evade the body’s defenses Aspergillus releases gliotoxin to inhibit the immune system. One of the targets of gliotoxin is PtdIns (3,4,5) P3. This results in the downregulation of phagocytic immune defense, which can lead to the exacerbation of polymicrobial infections. Gliotoxin impairs the activation of T-cells and induces apoptosis in monocytes and in monocyte-derived dendritic cells. These impairments can lead to multiple neurological syndromes.
Mycophenolic Acid (MPA) is produced by the Penicillium fungus. MPA is an immunosuppressant which inhibits the proliferation of B and T lymphocytes. MPA exposure can increase the risk of opportunistic infections such as Clostridia and Candida. MPA is associated with miscarriage and congenital malformations when the woman is exposed in pregnancy.
Dihydrocitrinone is a metabolite of Citrinin (CTN), which is a mycotoxin that is produced by mold species of the genera Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Monascus. CTN exposure can lead to nephropathy, because of its ability to increase permeability of mitochondrial membranes in the kidneys. The three most common exposure routes are through ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact. CTN has been shown to be carcinogenic in rat studies. Multiple studies have linked CTN exposure to a suppression of the immune response.
Chaetoglobosin A (CHA) is produced by the mold Chaetomium globosum (CG). CG is commonly found in homes that have experienced water damage. Up to 49% of water-damaged buildings have been found to have CG. CHA is highly toxic, even at minimal doses. CHA disrupts cellular division and movement. Most exposure to CG is through the mycotoxins because the spores tend not to aerosolize. Exposure to CHA has been linked to neuronal damage, peritonitis, and cutaneous lesions.
TREATMENT FOR MYCOTOXIN EXPOSURE
All mycotoxin exposures are basically treated the same.
1) Remove the person from exposure by moving or remediating the home, school, or office.
There are a wide variety of tests that can be used. Just walking around your residence with a critical eye and smelling for a moldy smell is the first thing to be done. Also, a positive urine mycotoxin test is a common indicator of residential or office mold since food contamination with mold is uncommon in the United States. The next step would be to check the internet for a mold inspector who can give references.
2) Treat with antifungals to remove any molds colonizing the GI tract, lungs, or sinuses.
This step is frequently omitted which is, in my opinion, the reason mold related illnesses drag on for years sometimes. Retest the mycotoxins after 6 weeks of treatment. If significant mycotoxins still remain, a new antifungal treatment may be needed, or the dosage may have to be increased.
3) Helping the body remove the mycotoxins.
Treat with binders such as charcoal and/or clay or combinations of charcoal and clay such as GI DETOX. Liposomal glutathione or N-acetylcysteine (NAC) at doses of 500 mg per day for adults may also be useful to remove residual mycotoxins.
DETAILS OF THE MYCOTOX PROFILE
The MycoTOX Profile is a urine test. The specimen requirement is the first morning urine and 10 ml of urine. Since this is a urine test, a patient can combine this test with many of our other urine tests such as the Organic Acids Test, GPL-TOX (Toxic Non-Metal Chemical Profile), and the Glyphosate Test. We are very excited to have what we believe to be the best and most cost-effective test for mycotoxins available, which will be very helpful in the treatment of many chronic diseases.
Frequently Asked Questions
HOW DOES THE GREAT PLAINS LABORATORY TEST FOR MYCOTOXINS?
The MycoTOX Profile at The Great Plains Laboratory uses the power of advanced mass spectrometry combined with liquid chromatography (LC/MS/MS) to test easily collected urine samples for very low levels of these fungal toxins. The technology used here is considered the best available anywhere in the world. In addition, In addition, The Great Plains Laboratory has pioneered the development of artificial intelligence software to improve the detection of chromatographic peaks in a manner superior to that of human analysts.
WHY DOES THE GREAT PLAINS LABORATORY PERFORM A CREATININE CORRECTION FOR MYCOTOXINS?
Application of the creatinine correction is a technique to reduce excessive variation in urine test results due to differences in fluid intake prior to collection of urine samples. It is a technique used by all reputable laboratories such as Mayo Clinic. It is not done by our competitors. Dividing the amount of a substance in urine by creatinine corrects for cases in which the patient may be dehydrated or excessively hydrated. In the case of dehydration, failure to perform creatinine correction might indicate that the person has toxic levels of mycotoxins when, in fact, the values are high just due to dehydration. With creatinine correction, such an error is avoided.
WHAT DISEASES ARE ASSOCIATED WITH MYCOTOXINS?
Virtually every neurological disease has been associated with mycotoxin exposure: autism, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. There is a strong association between mycotoxin exposure and cancers, especially liver and kidney cancers. Diseases and symptoms linked to mycotoxin exposure include fever, pneumonia-like symptoms, heart disease, rheumatic disease, asthma, sinusitis, nose bleeding, cancer, memory loss, vision loss, chronic fatigue, skin rashes, depression, ADHD, anxiety, and liver damage. A study of patients with chronic fatigue found that all the patients had high levels of mycotoxins in the urine.
HOW DO MYCOTOXINS AFFECT INDIVIDUALS WITH NEUROLOGICAL DISEASES LIKE PARKINSON’S DISEASE?
Ochratoxin A is the most common mycotoxin produced by both Aspergillus and Penicillium species. It causes acute depletion of brain striatal dopamine and its metabolites, accompanying evidence of neuronal cell apoptosis in the substantia nigra, striatum and hippocampus. Depletion of dopamine in these areas of the brain are commonly associated with Parkinson’s disease which is frequently treated with L-DOPA to replace dopamine in the areas of the brain depleted of dopamine.
SHOULD I USE PROVOKING AGENTS TO INCREASE EXCRETION OF MYCOTOXINS PRIOR TO URINE COLLECTION?
A number of provoking agents such as glutathione, clay, charcoal, and others increase excretion of mycotoxins. However, the people used to produce the reference ranges for each of the mycotoxins did not use any of these agents. Therefore, the use of such agents would be like comparing apples to oranges. We strongly advise you not to use such agents.
WHAT IS THE SEQUENCE OF EVENTS IN REVERSING A HEALTH PROBLEM THAT MIGHT BE MOLD RELATED?
Arrange to get a urine mycotoxin test (MycoTOX Profile) from The Great Plains Laboratory. Any health care practitioner can order the test. Sometimes you may be frustrated if your regular health care provider is not knowledgeable about testing and treatment for mold. In such cases, call customer service to get a good referral. Although food may be a source of mold, in the USA water-damaged buildings in your, office, school, or car are much more frequently a source of mold-related illnesses. Quite frequently, a person may also be colonized in their gastrointestinal tract with mold they were exposed to in a previous location.
If an experienced mold inspector cannot detect mold in your current home or office, you might have gastrointestinal mold colonization. In such cases, the person may need to have antifungal treatment to get well. Mold inspection of buildings is quite challenging and may be more of an art than a science. When buildings are contaminated by flooding or major leaks from storms, finding mold may be relatively straightforward. In such cases, effective treatment will not be accomplished until remediation has been completed. This can be expensive, and the owner of the damaged building may want to get several bids and references from the contractors performing such work. If you live in an apartment or rental house, you will need to get your landlord to take care of the repairs. Since the work is often expensive, you may also need to contact a lawyer with experience in such cases.
SHOULD I ONLY ATTEMPT TO TREAT MYCOTOXINS THAT ARE VERY HIGH?
Studies have shown that even low levels of mycotoxins over a long period of time can cause serious illness.
ARE MYCOTOXINS ONLY DUE TO MOLDS?
No, some mycotoxins are produced by poisonous mushrooms.
ARE THERE OTHER WAYS THAT I CAN BE EXPOSED TO MOLDS?
Individuals may be exposed to molds in a variety of pharmaceutical products that were not adequately sterilized after preparation.
WHAT AGENTS HAVE BEEN USED TO REDUCE MYCOTOXINS FROM MOLDS?
The drug Oltipraz can increase glutathione conjugation of mold toxins while inhibiting the toxic effect of P450 oxidation, reducing liver toxicity and promoting safer elimination. A diet of carrots, parsnips, celery, and parsley may reduce the carcinogenic effects of mold. Bentonite clay and zeolite clay are reported to reduce the absorption of mold found in food. Supplementation with chlorophyllin, zinc, A, E, C, NAC, rosmarinic acid, and liposomal glutathione alone or in combination have been shown to mitigate the oxidative effects of mold toxins. Charcoal is also a very effective agent in binding most mycotoxins.
I HAD A MYCOTOXIN TEST AND ALL THE VALUES WERE IN THE NORMAL RANGE. IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG?
Remember there are over 200 kinds of mycotoxins that have been identified. The mycotoxin test at The Great Plains Laboratory has been designed to detect many of the most well-known mycotoxins that are associated with diseases, but it does not detect all mycotoxins. Also remember that there are many illnesses with the same symptoms that may be caused by different causes. A negative test can be very important in telling the physician and patient to look elsewhere to find the cause of an illness.