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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Fumonisins: Toxicokinetics, Mechanism of Action and Toxicity)

item Voss, Kenneth - Ken
item Smith, Geoffrey
item Haschek, Wanda

Submitted to: Animal Feed Science And Technology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2007
Publication Date: 8/1/2007
Citation: Voss, K.A., Smith, G.W., Haschek, W.M. 2007. Fumonisins: Toxicokinetics, Mechanism of Action and Toxicity. Animal Feed Science And Technology. 137:299-325.

Interpretive Summary: Fumonisins are a family of toxins made by some Fusarium molds that are found on corn. They are present in foods and animal feeds made from corn. Fumonisin B1 (FB1) is the most common and the thoroughly studied type of fumonisin. The current state of knowledge regarding these toxins is reviewed by ARS scientists and a collaborator. Studies by ARS and other scientists have shown that when fed to horses or pigs, FB1 and feeds contaminated with other fumonisins cause the unique and fatal diseases that were previously associated with the consumption of Fusarium-molded feedstuffs. Further experiments using farm and laboratory species as animal models have contributed to determining the potential adverse affects of fumonisins to a variety of agriculturally-important animal species and, have shown that fumonisins do not accumulate to a significant degree in milk and eggs, which is important to human health. On the biochemical level, fumonisins disrupt sphingolipid (a type of fat) metabolism and experimental evidence indicates that this effect likely plays a significant role in the mechanism by which fumonisins cause diseases in animals. Together, the findings from studies in farm and laboratory species have contributed to protecting animal health by providing an understanding of how fumonisins cause disease and to establishing guidances for maximum fumonisin levels in animal feeds and feed components.

Technical Abstract: Fumonisins are mycotoxins produced by Fusarium verticillioides and F. proliferatum. They occur worldwide and are found predominantly in corn and in corn-based animal feeds. Of the fumonisins, fumonisin B1 (FB1) is the most common and thoroughly studied. FB1 causes the same toxicities in animals as F. verticillioides and F. proliferatum contaminated corn, including Equine Leukoencephalomalacia and Porcine Pulmonary Edema, diseases long associated with the consumption of moldy feeds by horses and swine FB1 is also a liver and kidney toxin to a variety of laboratory and farm animal species, initially causing apoptosis and mitosis in the affected tissues. The toxicological properties of this mycotoxin are reviewed. FB1 and other fumonisins inhibit ceramide synthase in animals and disrupt sphingolipid metabolism. Experimental evidence indicates that the ensuing disruption of sphingolipid-dependent processes underlies the mechanisms of toxicity and pathogenesis of fumonisin-related diseases. The U.S. FDA has set species-specific guidances for fumonisin concentrations in animal feeds that range from 1 to 50 ppm in the formulated rations.

Last Modified: 05/26/2017
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