Fumonisin B1 and ochratoxin A are mycotoxins of importance to public health and agro-economics. Although much is known about their cellular toxicity and carcinogenesis in animals, there are no reports of adverse effects on immune cells (leukocytes) or on the immune modulation of the molecular messengers (cytokines) in humans. This study was designed, therefore, to determine and compare the morphological effects of fumonisin B1 and ochratoxin A on lymphocytes and neutrophils harvested from the circulation of healthy volunteer subjects and patients with oesophageal and breast carcinomas. Both fumonisin B1 and ochratoxin A reduced the number of viable lymphocytes and neutrophils harvested from the circulation of volunteer subjects carcinoma patients in a dose-dependent manner. Leukocyte secretion of cytokines on exposure to the mycotoxins was evaluated by immunocytochemical methods. Expression of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), tumour necrosis factor (TNF-α) and chemokine (CX3CR1) receptors were determined on the circulating leukocytes and the immunolabelling visualized by brightfield-and electron-microscopy. Cytokine levels were determined in the circulation of healthy volunteer subjects and in patients with oesophageal and breast carcinomas since they reflect the status of the immune system in humans. The findings of this study on immunocytes (leukocytes) and the immune molecular messengers (cytokines) suggest that fumonisin B1 and ochratoxin A have an immuno-suppressive effect in humans, in particular patients with cancer by impairing immune surveillance.
Odhav, B., Adam, J. K., & Bhoola, K. (2008). Modulating effects of fumonisin B1 and ochratoxin A on leukocytes and messenger cytokines of the human immune system. International Immunopharmacology, 8(6), 799-809. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intimp.2008.01.030