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Toxicology. 2004 Nov 1;204(1):13-21.

Deoxynivalenol (DON) is toxic to human colonic, lung and monocytic cell lines, but does not increase the IgE response in a mouse model for allergy.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Immunology, Division of Environmental Medicine, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Geitmyrsv. 75, 0462 Oslo, Norway.


We examined whether the common crop mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) from Fusarium species is toxic to human colonic (Caco-2), lung (A549) and monocytic (U937) cell lines. Moreover, since DON reportedly induces increased levels of Th2 cytokines and total IgE, and we have observed that mould extracts adjuvated allergy development in mice, possible adjuvant effect of DON on allergy was studied in a mouse model. For all the cells, exposure to DON for 24 h reduced cellular protein synthesis, proliferation and survival rate dose-dependently. In addition, production of IL-8 in the U937 cell line increased up to eight-fold at levels of DON just lower than the most toxic one, suggesting that IL-8 can be used as an additional index for cytotoxicity in mononuclear phagocytes. However, DON did not increase levels of allergen-specific IgE or IgG1 in the mouse model for allergy. These results suggest that DON, when inhaled or ingested, may have toxic effect on human alveolar macrophages and epithelial cells in lungs and colon, but does not increase the allergic response to allergens.

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