Biomonitoring of the mycotoxin Zearalenone: current state-of-the art and application to human exposure assessment
- 991 Downloads
Zearalenone (ZEN), a mycotoxin with high estrogenic activity in vitro and in vivo, is a widespread food contaminant that is commonly detected in maize, wheat, barley, sorghum, rye and other grains. Human exposure estimates based on analytical data on ZEN occurrence in various food categories and food consumption data suggest that human exposure to ZEN and modified forms of ZEN may be close to or even exceed the tolerable daily intake (TDI) derived by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for some consumer groups. Considering the inherent uncertainties in estimating dietary intake of ZEN that may lead to an under- or overestimation of ZEN exposure and consequently human risk and current lack of data on vulnerable consumer groups, there is a clear need for more comprehensive and reliable exposure data to refine ZEN risk assessment. Human biomonitoring (HBM) is increasingly being recognized as an efficient and cost-effective way of assessing human exposure to food contaminants, including mycotoxins. Based on animal and (limited) human data on the toxicokinetics of ZEN, it appears that excretion of ZEN and its major metabolites may present suitable biomarkers of ZEN exposure. In view of the limitations of available dietary exposure data on ZEN and its modified forms, the purpose of this review is to provide an overview of recent studies utilizing HBM to monitor and assess human exposure to ZEN. Considerations are given to animal and human toxicokinetic data relevant to HBM, analytical methods, and available HBM data on urinary biomarkers of ZEN exposure in different cohorts.
KeywordsHuman biomonitoring Mycotoxin Zearalenone Biomarker of exposure
Limit of detection
Limit of quantitation
Probable daily intake
Tolerable daily intake
The authors would like to thank Lucia Gambacorta for analyses with indirect method as well as Nicole Lorenz and all members of the Mycotoxin Panel of the Committee of Contaminants and other Undesirable Substances in the Food Chain of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) for constructive discussions.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.
- Choi J, Mørck TA, Polcher A, Knudsen LE, Joas A, (2014) Review of the state of the art of human biomonitoring for chemical substances and its application to human exposure assessment for food safety. In: EFSA (ed) EFSA supporting publication 2015: EN-724, p 321Google Scholar
- Danicke S, Brussow KP, Valenta H, Ueberschar KH, Tiemann U, Schollenberger M (2005) On the effects of graded levels of Fusarium toxin contaminated wheat in diets for gilts on feed intake, growth performance and metabolism of deoxynivalenol and zearalenone. Mol Nutr Food Res 49:932–943CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- EFSA (2011) Scientific opinion on the risks for public health related to the presence of zearalenone in food. EFSA J 9:2197Google Scholar
- EFSA (2014a) Evaluation of the increase of risk for public health related to a possible temporary derogation from the maximum level of deoxynivalenol, zearalenone and fumonisins for maize and maize products. EFSA J 12:3699Google Scholar
- EFSA (2014b) Scientific Opinion on the risks for human and animal health related to the presence of modified forms of certain mycotoxins in food and feed. EFSA J 12:3916Google Scholar
- Föllmann W, Ali N, Blaszkewicz M, Degen G, (2016) Biomonitoring of mycotoxins in urine: pilot study in mill workers. J Toxicol Environ Health, Part A in pressGoogle Scholar
- Frizzell C, Ndossi D, Verhaegen S, Dahl E, Eriksen G, Sorlie M, Ropstad E, Muller M, Elliott CT, Connolly L (2011) Endocrine disrupting effects of zearalenone, alpha- and beta-zearalenol at the level of nuclear receptor binding and steroidogenesis. Toxicol Lett 206:210–217CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Molina-Molina JM, Real M, Jimenez-Diaz I, Belhassen H, Hedhili A, Torne P, Fernandez MF, Olea N (2014) Assessment of estrogenic and anti-androgenic activities of the mycotoxin zearalenone and its metabolites using in vitro receptor-specific bioassays. Food Chem Toxicol 74:233–239CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- SCF (2000) Opinion of the scientific committee on food on fusarium toxins part 2: zearalenone (ZEA) (expressed on 22 June, 2000). http://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/docs/cs_contaminants_catalogue_out65_en.pdf
- Shephard GS, Burger HM, Gambacorta L, Gong YY, Krska R, Rheeder JP, Solfrizzo M, Srey C, Sulyok M, Visconti A, Warth B, van der Westhuizen L (2013) Multiple mycotoxin exposure determined by urinary biomarkers in rural subsistence farmers in the former Transkei, South Africa. Food Chem Toxicol 62:217–225CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Solfrizzo M, Gambacorta L, Lattanzio VM, Powers S, Visconti A (2011) Simultaneous LC–MS/MS determination of aflatoxin M1, ochratoxin A, deoxynivalenol, de-epoxydeoxynivalenol, alpha and beta-zearalenols and fumonisin B1 in urine as a multi-biomarker method to assess exposure to mycotoxins. Anal Bioanal Chem 401:2831–2841CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar