Mycotoxins are a big group of compounds, with a range of chemical structures and toxicological characteristics.
Fungi, and their metabolites, contaminate raw materials that are usually used in the preparation of human food and animal feed. The main crops affected are grains (rice, wheat, rye, barley, corn, soybeans), dried fruits, nuts, coffee and spices. Contamination may occur naturally during the growth of the crop or may be a result of improper transport and storage processes.
Fungal contamination control measures, some prevention strategies and improved processing technologies can help limit mycotoxin contamination. However, despite these efforts, up to 60%–80% of food crops are still contaminated by mycotoxins.
Exposure to mycotoxins does not always have to be related to food consumption. There are studies that explored the occurrence of mycotoxins in working or living environments and the results showed that exposure to mycotoxins can be related to these places, too. Mycotoxicosis can cause acute and chronic health effects to humans and livestock via ingestion, inhalation and contact with the skin, as well as through entering the lymphatic system and blood stream. While acute effects manifest within 72 h of exposure, chronic effects take more than 72 h and may increase to months, years, or even decades. They harm the macrophage system, impair protein synthesis, intensify the response to bacterial endotoxin, and inhibit particle clearance of the lungs. Symptoms of mycotoxicosis are based on the type of mycotoxin, the age, sex, and health of victims, the mycotoxin concentration, and the length of exposure. The impact of mycotoxins on human health depends on the type of toxin, its metabolism, pharmacokinetics and the accumulation of the mycotoxin, exposure conditions and the age, gender, immune system and health status of the exposed individual.
For this purpose, Toxiplex has been developed as an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the determination of 5 types of mycotoxins simultaneously from a one blood serum sample: