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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Haschek, W
item Voss, Kenneth - Ken
item Beasley, V

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/15/2001
Publication Date: 1/15/2002
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Mycotoxins are a diverse group of toxic compounds that are produced by fungi. They are important contaminants of cereals, peanuts, cottonseed, forage grasses and other crops. Because of the threat they pose to animal and human health, mycotoxins have a negative economic impact on American agriculture. Recognition of diseases and types of tissue damage (lesions) caused by mycotoxins and understanding their physiological cause is important for veterinary pathologists responsible for diagnosing mycotoxin-caused diseases and also for experimental pathologists studying mycotoxins in the laboratory. The purposes of this chapter are to serve as a reference targeted at these and other scientists working to reduce the health and economic impacts of mycotoxins and to increase awareness of mycotoxins and mycotoxin-related diseases in the scientific community. Specifically, the chapter provides a general overview of mycotoxins and gives detailed descriptions of the diseases caused by the most important of these compounds, aflatoxins, ochratoxins, trichothecenes, fumonisins, zearalenone, and ergot alkaloids. Special emphasis is placed on descriptions of their pathology, that is, the different types of lesions that the mycotoxins cause in affected organs.

Technical Abstract: Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by a wide range of fungi. They are important contaminants of cereals and other crops and, as a group, exhibit a wide range of chemical structures, biomolecular modes of action, and toxicological and pathophysiological effects in animals. The pathology associated with mycotoxin exposures is likewise diverse and depends on mycotoxin type, exposure conditions, and animal species. In some cases, the consequences to animal health are severe and lead to significant economic losses. Some mycotoxins are recognized as real or potential human health threats. This chapter provides pathologists working in support of toxicological investigations in the laboratory, as well as veterinary diagnosticians, with a general reference on mycotoxins. Emphasis is placed on recent findings concerning the toxicology and pathophysiology of the more important mycotoxins including aflatoxins, ochratoxins, fumonisins, trichothecenes, zearalenone, and ergot alkaloids and relating these findings to the gross and microscopic lesions that they cause.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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