Fumonisins: toxicological effects, mechanism of action and biomarkers for exposure assesment

Luciana Minami, Paula Garcia Meirelles, Elisa Yoko Hirooka, Elisabete Yurie Sataque Ono


Fumonisins, mycotoxins produced by Fusarium verticillioides Sacc. Niremberg (F. moniliforme Sheldon), the prevalent seed borne fungus of corn (Zea mays), have been associated with several animal diseases, such as equine leukoencephalomalacia, porcine pulmonary edema and hepatic and renal carcinomas in rats and mice. Epidemiological studies have linked consumption of fumonisin-contaminated corn with esophageal cancer in human populations in China and South Africa. In addition, fungal growth and further corn contamination by fumonisins cause great economic losses throughout the world. The fumonisin B1 molecule bears remarkable structural resemblance to the long-chain base backbones of sphingolipids. The toxicity and carcinogenicity of FB1 is based on its ability to inhibit ceramide synthase, a key enzyme in the metabolism of complex sphingolipids. Inhibition of these metabolic pathway results in increased intracellular concentrations of free sphinganine and depletion of complex sphingolipids, which play important roles in cell regulation. Due to the worldwide occurrence of fumonisins in corn and corn-based products, many studies have aimed the development of biomarkers for exposure assessment and for establishment of acceptable exposure levels to fumonisins. This review discusses the toxicological effects of fumonisins in vivo and in vitro, biochemical mechanisms of action and the progress in development of biomarkers for exposure assessment.


Fumonisins; Sphingolipids; Fusarium verticillioides; Biomarkers; Corn.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5433/1679-0359.2004v25n3p207

Semina: Ciênc. Agrár.
Londrina - PR
E-ISSN 1679-0359
DOI: 10.5433 / 1679-0359
E-mail:  semina.agrarias@uel.br
Este obra está licenciado com uma Licença  Creative Commons Atribuição-NãoComercial 4.0 Internacional