Optimal Result: 0.4 - 2.3 ELISA Index.

Aflatoxins are organic chemical compounds produced by a polyketide pathway by many strains of the mold, Aspergillus.

IgM is the first antibody to appear in the response to initial exposure.

Aspergillus flavus is a particular strain common contaminant in agricultural products such as peanuts, rice, figs and corn.

Aflatoxin B1 is the most potent natural carcinogen known and is usually the major aflatoxin produced by toxigenic strains. The Curse of the Mummy has been a popular theme for literature, films and folklore.

A little history lesson:

Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen, the Boy King, did not reach from the great beyond to strike down the men who dared to open his tomb. Instead the mysterious and painful deaths of the archeologists, including Americans Arthur Mace and George Jay Gould, who died within 24 hours of entering the tomb, and British adventurer and financier Lord Carnarvon, who passed weeks later, were more likely caused by aflatoxosis. Tutankhamen and other royal counterparts were entombed with baskets of rice. Aspergillus flavus is known to grow on rice and the life of this mold and its mycotoxin, Aflatoxin, can thrive in a tomb environment. Lord Carnarvon died after suffering from a high fever, severe pain, pneumonia in both lungs, and eventually heart and respiratory failure; exposure to mycotoxins can cause a form of pneumonia to which immune-compromised individuals, like Lord Carnarvon, are susceptible.

Aflatoxin exposure can occur via airborne spores entering through the lung barrier, ingested food products entering through the intestinal barrier, or contacted spores entering through the skin barrier. The symptoms of aflatoxicosis depend mainly in the amount and duration of the exposure, as well as the age and health of the patient. The severity of aflatoxin harmfulness can be compounded by factors such as vitamin deficiency, caloric deprivation, alcohol abuse, and infectious diseases. 

Mycotoxins are potent protein synthesis inhibitors, and aflatoxicosis can suppress immune function, including lowering secretory IgA (SIgA) levels.

Due to the vital role SIgA plays in host defense, insufficient SIgA levels may cause a heightened vulnerability to microbial diseases, worsen the effects of malnutrition, and interact synergistically with other toxins.

Animal studies show that aflatoxin interferes with vitamins A and D, iron, selenium, and zinc nutrition. 

A review of animal studies maps the effects aflatoxin exposure causes on:

- Respiratory System

- Gastrointestinal System

- Immune System

- Nervous System

- Renal System

- Reproductive System

The detection of antibodies to Aflatoxins bound to human protein in serum indicates a breakdown in immunological tolerance and induction of chemical intolerance. Aflatoxin or its metabolites can bind to human tissue proteins and form neo-antigens. These new antigens are comprised of the haptenic chemical plus the tissue antigen. The formation of neo-antigens initiates an immune response, which may result in antibody production against the chemical and the human tissue. Continued exposure and the subsequent production of antibodies against various tissue antigens, may result in autoimmune reactivity. Persons with antibodies to Aflatoxin bound to human protein in serum should avoid exposure to the substance, with special attention taken to clean up the home and work environments.

Quick List Sources of Aflatoxins:

- Grains, commonly corn, rice and other cereal grains

- Nuts, notably peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios

- Milk and milk products from animals fed Aflatoxin contaminated feed; eggs

- Dried fruits especially figs

- Spices

- Vegetable oils

- Cocoa beans

- Moldy living or work environment

References:

- Cox AM. The death of Lord Carnarvon. Lancet, 2003; 361(9373):1994.

- Gandon S. The curse of the pharaoh hypothesis. Proc R Soc Lond. B, 1998; 265(1405):1545- 1552.

- Bennett JW and Klich M. Mycotoxins. Clin Microbiol Rev, 2003; 16(3):497-516.

- Turner PC, Moore SE, Hall AJ, et al. Modification of immune function through exposure to dietary aflatoxin in Gambian children. Environ Health Perspect, 2003; 111(2):217–220.

- Qazi JI and Fayyaz Z. Aflatoxin contaminated foods and health risk perspective for Pakistani population. Mycopath, 2006; 4(2):27-34.

- Coulombe RA. Nonhepatic disposition and effects of aflatoxin B1. In DL Eaton and JD Groopman (eds.), The toxicology of aflatoxins: human health, veterinary and agricultural significance. San Diego, New York, Boston, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto: Academic Press, Inc; 1993. pp 89- 101.

What does it mean if your Aflatoxins IgM result is too high?

Aflatoxin exposure can occur via airborne spores entering through the lung barrier, ingested food products entering through the intestinal barrier, or contacted spores entering through the skin barrier. The symptoms of aflatoxicosis depend mainly in the amount and duration of the exposure, as well as the age and health of the patient. The severity of aflatoxin harmfulness can be compounded by factors such as vitamin deficiency, caloric deprivation, alcohol abuse, and infectious diseases.

The detection of antibodies to Aflatoxins bound to human protein in serum indicates a breakdown in immunological tolerance and induction of chemical intolerance. Aflatoxin or its metabolites can bind to human tissue proteins and form neo-antigens. These new antigens are comprised of the haptenic chemical plus the tissue antigen. The formation of neo-antigens initiates an immune response, which may result in antibody production against the chemical and the human tissue. Continued exposure and the subsequent production of antibodies against various tissue antigens, may result in autoimmune reactivity. Persons with antibodies to Aflatoxin bound to human protein in serum should avoid exposure to the substance, with special attention taken to clean up the home and work environments.

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