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Food Chem Toxicol. 1998 Dec;36(12):1107-15.

Immunological evaluation of the mycotoxin patulin in female B6C3F1 mice.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, USA.


Patulin is a mycotoxin produced by many fungal species of the genera Penicillium, Aspergillus and Bryssochamys. Previous literature reports have suggested that patulin is toxic to the immune system. The studies presented were conducted to provide a comprehensive assessment of the effects of patulin on the immune system. Unlike previous reports, the doses of patulin used (0.08, 0.16, 0.32, 0.64, 1.28 and 2.56 mg/kg) were based on predicted human exposure levels. Female B6C3F1 mice were exposed orally to patulin for 28 days. Effects were not observed on final body weight or body weight gain. Relative weight of the liver, spleen, thymus, kidneys with adrenals, and lungs was not affected. Peripheral blood leucocyte and lymphocyte counts were decreased by approximately 30% in the two highest dose groups. The leucocyte differential was not altered. Total spleen cell, total T-cell (CD3+), helper T-cell (CD4+CD8-), B-cell (surface immunoglobulin+) and monocyte (MAC-3+) counts were not changed. Cytotoxic T-cell (CD8+CD4-) counts were increased 50% only by the highest dose. Natural killer cell (NK1.1+CD3-) and monocyte (MAC-1+) counts were increased 30% and 24%, respectively, only in the 0.08 mg/kg group. Humoral immune function as assessed by antibody-forming cell response and serum IgM titre to sheep erythrocytes, and cell-mediated immune function evaluated utilizing natural killer cell activity and the mixed lymphocyte reaction were not altered. Oral exposure to patulin for 28 days did not alter the ability of female B6C3F1 mice to mount either a cell-mediated or humoral immune response.

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