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Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Jan;57(1):165-86. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201100764. Epub 2012 Oct 10.

Masked mycotoxins: a review.

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  • 1Christian Doppler Laboratory for Mycotoxin Metabolism, Department for Agrobiotechnology IFA-Tulln, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Tulln, Austria.


The aim of this review is to give a comprehensive overview of the current knowledge on plant metabolites of mycotoxins, also called masked mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are secondary fungal metabolites, toxic to human and animals. Toxigenic fungi often grow on edible plants, thus contaminating food and feed. Plants, as living organisms, can alter the chemical structure of mycotoxins as part of their defence against xenobiotics. The extractable conjugated or non-extractable bound mycotoxins formed remain present in the plant tissue but are currently neither routinely screened for in food nor regulated by legislation, thus they may be considered masked. Fusarium mycotoxins (deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, fumonisins, nivalenol, fusarenon-X, T-2 toxin, HT-2 toxin, fusaric acid) are prone to metabolisation or binding by plants, but transformation of other mycotoxins by plants (ochratoxin A, patulin, destruxins) has also been described. Toxicological data are scarce, but several studies highlight the potential threat to consumer safety from these substances. In particular, the possible hydrolysis of masked mycotoxins back to their toxic parents during mammalian digestion raises concerns. Dedicated chapters of this article address plant metabolism as well as the occurrence of masked mycotoxins in food, analytical aspects for their determination, toxicology and their impact on stakeholders.

© 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

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