Mycotoxins are a diverse group of toxic chemicals produced by a wide range of molds (fungi) in our air, food, buildings and outdoor environments. Mycotoxins can trigger a wide range of adverse human health effects including cancer, hormonal changes, digestive problems, immune system toxicity, and a wide range of neurological problems including chronic fatigue, headaches, poorer memory/concentration and tremors.
Mycotoxins may also play a role in increasing risk of allergies and asthma and may worsen the allergic effects of common allergens such as pollen and food allergens. Several studies have reported that asthma and wheezing in more common in people whose homes/ workplaces/ schools are contaminated with significant levels of molds and mycotoxins.
A recent mouse study reported that reported that mice sensitized to egg protein (ovalbumin) suffered much worse asthma and allergic symptoms when exposed to low levels of the mycotoxins patulin and gliotoxin. Patulin is a common mycotoxin produced by Aspergilus and Penicillium and is often found in significant quantities in stale fruit juice and rotten apples. Gliotoxin is another common mycotoxin which is commonly produced by a wide range of fungi including Penicillium, Aspergillus, Trichoderma and Candida. This mouse mycotoxin study by Schutze et al. is now in press in the American Journal of Critical Care Medicine.
Much more research is needed to determine the relationships between mycotoxins and allergens/asthma.