, Volume 117, Issue 1–2, pp 11–16 | Cite as

Fumonisins: Isolation, chemical characterization and biological effects

  • Wentzel C. A. Gelderblom
  • Walter F. O. Marasas
  • R. Vleggaar
  • Pieter G. Thiel
  • M. E. Cawood


The fumonisin B mycotoxins (FB1 and FB2) have been purified and characterized from corn cultures of Fusarium moniliforme strain MRC 826. Fumonisin B1 (FB1, the major fumonisin produced in culture, has been shown to be responsible for the major toxicological effects of the fungus in rats, horses and pigs. Recent investigations on the purification of compounds with chromatographic characteristics similar to FB1 have led to the identification of two new fumonisins, FB3 and FB4. Fumonisins A1 and A2, the N-acetyl derivatives of FB1 and FB2 respectively, were also purified and shown to be secondary metabolites of the fungus. Short-term carcinogenesis studies in a rat liver bioassay indicated that over a period of 15 to 20 days, at dietary levels of 0.05–0.1%, FB2 and FB3 closely mimic the toxicological and cancer initiating activity of FB1 and thus could contribute to the toxicological effects of the fungus in animals. In contrast, no biological activity could be detected for FA1 under identical experimental conditions. These studies and others have indicated that the fumonisin B mycotoxins, although lacking mutagenicity in the Salmonella test or genotoxicity in the DNA repair assays in primary hepatocytes, appear to induce resistant hepatocytes similar to many known hepatocarcinogens.

Key words

Fumonisins Fusarium moniliforme carcinogenesis 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wentzel C. A. Gelderblom
    • 1
  • Walter F. O. Marasas
    • 1
  • R. Vleggaar
    • 2
  • Pieter G. Thiel
    • 1
  • M. E. Cawood
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Institute for Nutritional DiseasesSAMRCTygerbergSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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