Indoor Mold And Their Mycotoxins Can Cause Neurotoxic Effects

It is well known that airborne exposure to indoor and outdoor molds and their mycotoxins can cause allergy related health effects such as asthma, wheezing, sinusitis, and skin/eye irritation.  

Michael Gray et al. Mixed Mold Toxicosis: Immunological Changes in Humans Following Exposure in Water-Damaged Buildings. Archives of Environmental Health 2003;58(7):410-20.

Kaye Kilburn. Neurobehavioral and pulmonary impairment in 105 adults compared to 100 exposed to chemicals. Toxicology and Industrial Health 2009;25(9-10):681-92.

Zahdul Islam et al. Satratoxin G from black mold Stachybotrys charatarum evokes olfactory sensory neuron loss and inflammation in the murine nose and brain. Environmental Health Perspectives 2006;114(7):1089-98.

Stephen Carey et al. Satratoxin-G from the black mold Stachybotrys charatarum induces rhinitis and apoptosis of olfactory sensory neurons in the nasal airways of Rheus monkeys. Toxicologic Pathology 2012;40:887-898.

Enusha Karunasena et al. Building-associated neurological damage modeled in human cells. A mechanism of neurotoxic effects by exposure to mycotoxins in the indoor environment. Mycopathologica 2010;170:377-90.

Recent studies have reported that indoor exposure to molds and mycotoxins (at concentrations commonly found in water damaged buildings) can cause a wide range of neurotoxic effects. A variety of human, animal and nerve cell cultures who report a mold/mycotoxin link to neurotoxic problems are briefly summarized below.

A study of 209 adults who lived in worked in water damaged buildings reported that many neurological symptoms such as headaches, chronic fatigue, memory and concentration problems, and lightheadedness were significantly more common than in 28 controls. The mold-exposed patients also had significantly higher levels of autoantibodies to many nervous system proteins including myelin from both the central and peripheral nervous systems (CNS & PNS), neurofilament proteins, and smooth muscle proteins. Another reported that lung function was significantly less in a group of 105 mold-exposed adults as compared to 202 control adults.

The mold exposed patients also scored significantly poorer on many neurological tests including reaction speed, balance, color vision, grip strength, memory, concentration and motor skills. The mold exposed patients also had significantly more fatigue and depression the controls. Studies with lab animals and nerve cell cultures have also reported that mycotoxins such as satratoxin (from Stachybotrys) are neurotoxic.

A mouse study reported that nasal exposure to low doses (100 micrograms per kilogram of mouse) of satratoxin cause severe neuron loss and inflammation to the olfactory nerve. Another study with Rheus monkey’s (Macaca mulatta) reported that low dose intranasal satratoxin exposure caused severe rhinitis and loss of olfactory nerve neurons. Another study reported that satratoxin H exposure to nerve cells (human astrocytes and human brain capillary endothelial cells) at levels typically found in water-damaged buildings (10 parts per billion or 10 ng/ml) cause inflammation, oxidative damage, and cell death (apoptosis).

The human brain capillary endothelial cells also showed significantly higher cell permeability, suggesting that satratoxin may be able to damage the blood brain barrier (BBB).



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