The Great Plains Laboratory
MycoTOX (Mold) Test (The Great Plains Laboratory)
Mycotoxins (toxins from mold) are some of the most prevalent toxins in the environment. Mycotoxins are metabolites produced by fungi like mold, which can infest buildings, vehicles, and foodstuffs. Most mycotoxin exposures in North America, Europe, and Australia are through airborne exposure. Food may be a major source of mycotoxins in third-world nations that lack government inspection of foods, especially the grains such as rice, corn, wheat, rye, and barley. Many grains that are harvested have been found to be contaminated with mycotoxins but little of such harvests are discarded and are frequently sold for animal feeds such as dog food or feed for cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and horses.
Fungi can grow on almost any surface, especially if the environment is warm and wet. Inner wall materials of buildings, wallpaper, fiber glass insulation, ceiling tiles, and gypsum support are all good surfaces for fungi to colonize. These fungi then release mycotoxins into the environment causing symptoms of many different chronic diseases. Diseases and symptoms linked to mycotoxin exposure include fever, pneumonia-like symptoms, heart disease, rheumatic disease, asthma, sinusitis, cancer, memory loss, vision loss, chronic fatigue, skin rashes, depression, ADHD, anxiety, and liver damage. With the MycoTOX Profile we can identify mycotoxin exposures and make recommendations for detoxification treatments that have been effective.
Great Plains Laboratory’s three primary goals for this test were to design a test that would be more sensitive and accurate as well as more affordable than those currently on the market. They were able to achieve these goals with a state-of-the-art liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) technology. Using this technology, they have a very sensitive test, which is important because mycotoxins can cause serious health issues even in small quantities. Other mycotoxin testing uses ELISA technology, which relies on antibodies. In addition, all the results from urine tests performed at The Great Plains Laboratory are corrected for differences in fluid intake using the technique called creatinine correction. Failure to use creatinine correction can lead to a thirty-fold variation in the concentration of the mycotoxins when there is variation in fluid intake. Utilization of LC-MS/MS technology gives them a precise identification of all analytes, which prevents having false positive errors. For many of the compounds they can detect amounts in the parts per trillion (ppt) which is about 100-fold better than any other test currently available.
ADVANTAGES OF THE MYCOTOX PROFILE
MycoTOX screens for eleven different mycotoxins, from 40 species of mold, in one urine sample.
MycoTOX is the most comprehensive and competitively priced mycotoxin test available.
MycoTOX uses the power of advanced mass spectrometry (MS/MS), which is necessary to detect lower levels of these fungal toxins. This test is optimal for follow up testing to ensure that detoxification therapies have been successful.
MycoTOX pairs perfectly with the Organic Acids Test (OAT), GPL-TOX (Toxic Non-Metal Chemical Profile), Phospholipase A2 Activity Test, and the Glyphosate Test. This gives you comprehensive testing to assess exposure to common environmental toxins and the damage that can be caused by this exposure, all at a great value, and all from one urine sample.
GENERA OF MOLD TESTED BY THE MYCOTOX PROFILE
The tests are currently measuring 11 different mycotoxins from a wide variety of 13 mold types (genera) including Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium, Myrothecium, Stachybotrys, Bipolaris, Gibberella, Chaetomium, Trichoderma, Trichothecium, Cephalosporium, Verticimonosporium, and Monascus. Since each of these genera contain multiple species, the MycoTOX Profile is likely to detect hundreds of mold species. In addition, poisonous mushrooms also produce some of the same mycotoxins as the molds. This makes the MycoTOX Profile the most comprehensive test on the market and it is the most cost-effective.
Aspergillus is the most prevalent mold group in the environment and there are hundreds of different species. It has caused billions of dollars in damage to crops and livestock. Common Aspergillus mycotoxins that are tested in the MycoTOX Profile include aflatoxin, ochratoxin, sterigmatocystin, gliotoxin, and citrinin. The main target of these toxins is the liver. These toxins have been found in all major cereal crops including peanuts, corn, cotton, millet, rice, sorghum, sunflower seeds, wheat, and a variety of spices. They are also found in eggs, milk, and meat from animals fed contaminated grains. Diseases caused by Aspergillus are called aspergillosis. The most common route of infection is through the respiratory system. Aspergillus can cause severe asthma when the mold colonizes the lung, forming a granulomatous disease.
There are over 200 species of the genus Penicillium that have been discovered. Penicillium chrysogenum is the most common of these species. It is often found in indoor environments and is responsible for many allergic reactions. Penicillium is also a known contaminant in many different food items. Many different types of citrus fruits can become contaminated with Penicillium, but it can also contaminate seeds and grains. One reason that Penicillium is such a common infestation is because of its ability to thrive in low humidity. In the home, Penicillium can be found in wallpaper, carpet, furniture, and fiberglass insulation. The most common mycotoxin produced by Penicillium is ochratoxin. Ochratoxin is nephrotoxic, which means that it damages the kidneys. It is also carcinogenic.
Stachybotrys is a greenish-black mold. This mold can grow on materials with high cellulose and low nitrogen content such as gypsum board, paper, fiberboard, and ceiling tiles. Stachybotrys is known for its production of the highly toxic macrocyclic trichothecene mycotoxins. Two of the more common mycotoxins produced by Stachybotrys are roridin E and verrucarin. In addition to these mycotoxins, the fungus produces nine phenylspirodrimanes, as well as cyclosporine, which are potent immunosuppressors. These immunosuppressors, along with the mycotoxin trichothecenes may be responsible for the high toxicity of Stachybotrys.
Fusarium’s major mycotoxins are zearalenone (ZEN) and fumonisin. Fusarium fungi grow best in temperate climate conditions. They require lower temperatures for growth than Aspergillus. Fusarium grows worldwide on many different types of grains including corn and wheat. Exposure to mycotoxins from Fusarium can lead to both acute and chronic effects. These symptoms can include abdominal distress, malaise, diarrhea, emesis, and death. ZEN possesses estrogenic effects and has been implicated in reproductive disorders.
MARKERS IN THE MYCOTOX PROFILE
The strains of molds evaluated can produce many different mycotoxins. The test provides extensive coverage, allowing for detection of most mold exposures.
AFLATOXIN M1 (AFM1)
Aflatoxin M1 (AFM1) is the main metabolite of aflatoxin B1, which is a mycotoxin produced by different species of the genus Aspergillus. Aflatoxins are some of the most carcinogenic substances in the environment. Aflatoxin susceptibility is dependent on multiple different factors such as age, sex, and diet. Aflatoxin can be found in beans, corn, rice, tree nuts, wheat, milk, eggs, and meat. In cases of lung aspergilloma, aflatoxin has been found in human tissue specimens. Aflatoxin can cause liver damage, cancer, mental impairment, abdominal pain, hemorrhaging, coma, and death. Aflatoxin has been shown to inhibit leucocyte proliferation. Clinical signs of aflatoxicosis are non-pruritic macular rash, headache, gastrointestinal dysfunction (often extreme), lower extremity edema, anemia, and jaundice. The toxicity of aflatoxin is increased in the presence of ochratoxin and zearalenone.
OCHRATOXIN A (OTA)
Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a nephrotoxic, immunotoxic, and carcinogenic mycotoxin. This chemical is produced by molds in the Aspergillus and Penicillium families. Exposure is primarily through contaminated foods such as cereals, grape juices, dairy, spices, wine, dried vine fruit, and coffee. Exposure to OTA can also come from inhalation exposure in water-damaged buildings. OTA can lead to kidney disease and adverse neurological effects. Studies have shown that OTA can cause significant oxidative damage to multiple brain regions and the kidneys. Dopamine levels in the brain of mice have been shown to be decreased after exposure to OTA.
Sterigmatocystin (STG) is a mycotoxin that is closely related to aflatoxin. STG is produced from several types of mold such as Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Bipolaris. It is carcinogenic, particularly in the cells of the GI tract and liver. STG has been found in the dust from damp carpets. It is also a contaminant of many foods including grains, corn, bread, cheese, spices, coffee beans, soybeans, pistachio nuts, and animal feed. In cases of lung aspergilloma, STG has been found in human tissue specimens. The toxicity of STG affects the liver, kidneys, and immune system. Tumors have been found in the lungs of rodents that were exposed to STG. Oxidative stress becomes measurably elevated during STG exposure, which causes a depletion of antioxidants such as glutathione, particularly in the liver.
Zearalenone (ZEA) is a mycotoxin that is produced by species of the mold genera Fusarium and Gibberella. It has been shown to be hepatotoxic, hematotoxic, immunotoxic, and genotoxic. ZEA is commonly found in several foods in the US, Europe, Asia, and Africa including wheat, barley, rice, and maize. ZEA has estrogenic activity and exposure to ZEA can lead to reproductive changes. ZEA’s estrogenic activity is higher than that of other non-steroidal isoflavones (compounds that have estrogen-like effects) such as soy and clover. ZEA exposure can result in thymus atrophy and alter spleen lymphocyte production as well as impaired lymphocyte immune response, which leads to patients being susceptible to disease.
Roridin E is a macrocyclic trichothecene produced by the mold genera Fusarium, Myrothecium, Trichoderma, Trichothecium, Cephalosporium, Verticimonosporium, and Stachybotrys (i.e. black mold). Trichothecenes are frequently found in buildings with water damage but can also be found in contaminated grain. This is a very toxic compound, which inhibits protein biosynthesis by preventing peptidyl transferase activity. Trichothecenes are considered extremely toxic and have been used as biological warfare agents. Even low levels of exposure to macrocyclic trichothecenes can cause severe neurological damage, immunosuppression, endocrine disruption, cardiovascular problems, and gastrointestinal distress.
Verrucarin A is a macrocyclic trichothecene mycotoxin produced from Stachybotrys, Fusarium, and Myrothecium molds. Trichothecenes are frequently found in buildings with water damage but can also be found in contaminated grain. This is a very toxic compound, which inhibits protein biosynthesis by preventing peptidyl transferase activity. Trichothecenes are considered extremely toxic and have been used as biological warfare agents. Even low levels of exposure to macrocyclic trichothecenes can cause severe neurological damage, immunosuppression, endocrine disruption, cardiovascular problems, and gastrointestinal distress.
Enniatin B1 is a fungal metabolite categorized as a cyclohexa-depsipeptides toxin produced by the molds of the Fusarium species. These species are common cereal contaminants. Grains in many different countries have recently been contaminated with high levels of enniatin. The toxic effects of enniatin are caused by the inhibition of the acyl-CoA cholesterol acyltransferase, depolarization of mitochondria, and inhibition of osteoclastic bone resorption. Enniatin has antibiotic properties and chronic exposure may lead to weight loss, fatigue, and liver disease.
Gliotoxin (GTX) is produced by the mold genus Aspergillus and perhaps Candida species. Aspergillus spreads in the environment by releasing conidia which are capable of infiltrating the small alveolar airways of individuals. To evade the body’s defenses Aspergillus releases gliotoxin to inhibit the immune system. One of the targets of gliotoxin is PtdIns (3,4,5) P3. This results in the downregulation of phagocytic immune defense, which can lead to the exacerbation of polymicrobial infections. Gliotoxin impairs the activation of T-cells and induces apoptosis in monocytes and in monocyte-derived dendritic cells. These impairments can lead to multiple neurological syndromes.
Mycophenolic Acid (MPA) is produced by the Penicillium fungus. MPA is an immunosuppressant which inhibits the proliferation of B and T lymphocytes. MPA exposure can increase the risk of opportunistic infections such as Clostridia and Candida. MPA is associated with miscarriage and congenital malformations when the woman is exposed in pregnancy.
Dihydrocitrinone is a metabolite of Citrinin (CTN), which is a mycotoxin that is produced by mold species of the genera Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Monascus. CTN exposure can lead to nephropathy, because of its ability to increase permeability of mitochondrial membranes in the kidneys. The three most common exposure routes are through ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact. CTN has been shown to be carcinogenic in rat studies. Multiple studies have linked CTN exposure to a suppression of the immune response.
Chaetoglobosin A (CHA) is produced by the mold Chaetomium globosum (CG). CG is commonly found in homes that have experienced water damage. Up to 49% of water-damaged buildings have been found to have CG. CHA is highly toxic, even at minimal doses. CHA disrupts cellular division and movement. Most exposure to CG is through the mycotoxins because the spores tend not to aerosolize. Exposure to CHA has been linked to neuronal damage, peritonitis, and cutaneous lesions.
TREATMENT FOR MYCOTOXIN EXPOSURE
All mycotoxin exposures are basically treated the same, although personalized support can be tailored to the individual when Nutrigenomic Evaluation and Organic Acids Test results are available.
1) Remove the person from exposure by moving or remediating the home, school, or office.
There are a wide variety of tests that can be used. Just walking around your residence with a critical eye and smelling for a moldy smell is the first thing to be done. Also, a positive urine mycotoxin test is a common indicator of residential or office mold since food contamination with mold is uncommon in the United States. The next step would be to check the internet for a mold inspector who can give references.
2) Treat with antifungals to remove any molds colonizing the GI tract, lungs, or sinuses.
Retest the mycotoxins after 6 weeks of treatment. If significant mycotoxins still remain, a new antifungal treatment may be needed, or the dosage may have to be increased.
3) Helping the body remove the mycotoxins.
Treat with binders such as charcoal and/or clay or combinations of charcoal and clay. Liposomal glutathione or N-acetylcysteine (NAC) may also be useful to remove residual mycotoxins.
DETAILS OF THE MYCOTOX PROFILE
The MycoTOX Profile is a urine test. The specimen requirement is the first morning urine and 10 ml of urine. Since this is a urine test, a patient can combine this test with other urine tests such as the Organic Acids Test, GPL-TOX (Toxic Non-Metal Chemical Profile), and the Glyphosate Test (contact LFHC for any test not available online).
The results of this test, along with a LFHC Nutrigenomic Evaluation and an Organic Acids Test are extremely valuable in helping people find the path to a healthier life. If you or a loved one continues to suffer with symptoms, contact our office or your trusted holistic practitioner for guidance.