Joseph Brewer et al. Detection of Mycotoxins in Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Toxins 2013;5:605-17.
Chronic fatigue is also commonly reported in humans who spend time in water or mold damaged buildings.
Molds (fungi) produce a wide variety of toxins called mycotoxins. Common mycotoxins include Aflatoxins (highly carcinogenic mycotoxins produced by some Aspergillus molds), Ochratoxins (mycotoxins which are carcinogenic and toxic to the kidneys and immune system produced by Aspergillus and Penicillium molds), and Trichothecenes (mycotoxins which are carcinogenic and toxic to the immune and nervous systems produced by Fusarium, Stachybotrys and Memnonellia molds).
A Missouri study examined 112 consecutive patients who meet diagnostic criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). These 112 patients experienced chronic fatigue for 2 to 36 years and ranged in age from 15 to 76 years. In 76 patients (68%) their fatigue was so severe that they were unable to work or attend school.
Urine samples were collected in the 112 patients and analyzed for 3 mycotoxins including aflatoxins, ochratoxins, and trichothecenes. Urine samples were also collected in 55 control patients with no known exposure to mold or water damaged buildings. Detectable levels of one or more of the 3 mycotoxins were found in 104 of the 112 (93%) chronic fatigue syndrome patients. Average levels of all 3 mycotoxins were significantly higher in the 112 chronic fatigue patients as compared to the 55 healthy controls. Average urine levels (in parts per billion or ppb) for aflatoxins were 0.43 in the CFS patients and 0.00 in controls (p=0.0007), average ochratoxin concentrations were 5.26 in CFS patients and 0.35 in controls (p<0.0001) and average tricothecene levels were 0.422 in CFS patients and 0.017 in controls (p<0.001).
There are several mechanisms by which mycotoxins may cause chronic fatigue, including inhibiting protein synthesis, causing oxidative damage to many parts of the cell, and by damaging the mitochondrion in cells. Mitochrondion are known as the “power houses of the cells” where most energy producing and detoxification reactions occur.