Mycotoxins, Candida and Leaky Gut Syndrome

Candida Leaky Gut Syndrome

The human digestive system plays a critical role in keeping out toxic and allergenic chemicals out of the bloodstream by a maintaining the “gut-blood barrier”.  This barrier is composed mostly of intestinal epithelial cells and tight junction proteins that exist between them- along with a layer of protective glycoproteins called mucins.  Disruptions of the “gut-blood barrier” can cause “leaky gut syndrome which can allow toxins and undigested allergenic proteins to enter the bloodstream.  This leaky gut syndrome is believed to be related to many chronic diseases including asthma, chronic fatigue, food allergy/ intolerance, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, autism, dementia, and other autoimmune diseases (1). Eating probiotic bacteria and/or the fatty phospholipid lecithin has been associated with stronger gut barriers and lower levels of leaky gut related health symptoms (2).

Various studies have suggested that exposure to mycotoxins and/or the common intestinal fungi Candida are associated with significantly worse gut barrier function (3, 4). Common foodborne mycotoxins include deoxynivalenol (DON or vomittoxin), aflatoxins, ochratoxins, and zearalenone. Mycotoxins primarily damage the intestinal cells by causing DNA and oxidative damage (3). Mycotoxins can also damage the mucin barrier of the intestines.  Gut mycotoxins can also reduce populations of beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus (3).

Heavy intestinal Candida growth can also reduce gut barriers.    Various leaky gut experimental models have shown that heavy Candida intestinal growth can stimulate IL-9 (Interleukin-9) and intestinal mucosa mast cells and cause leaky gut, inflammation, and diarrhea (4).

Much More Research on Candida and the Leaky Gut Syndrome is needed.


1. Farshchi MK, Azad FJ, Salari R, Mirsadraee M, Anushiravani M. A Viewpoint on the Leaky Gut Syndrome to Treat Allergic Asthma: A Novel Opinion. Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine. 2017;22(3):378-80.


2. Stange EF. Improvement of a ‘Leaky’ Intestinal Barrier. Digestive diseases (Basel, Switzerland). 2017;35(1-2):21-4.


3. Ren Z, Guo C, Yu S, Zhu L, Wang Y, Hu H, et al. Progress in Mycotoxins Affecting Intestinal Mucosal Barrier Function. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(11).


4. Renga G, Moretti S, Oikonomou V, Borghi M, Zelante T, Paolicelli G, et al. IL-9 and Mast Cells Are Key Players of Candida albicans Commensalism and Pathogenesis in the Gut. Cell reports. 2018;23(6):1767-78.

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