|Authors: ||C. Siddoo-Atwal, A.S. Atwal|
|Keywords: ||sugar, bee, contamination, ochratoxin, fumonisin, mycotoxin, degradation|
Mycotoxins are a group of secondary mould metabolites which can have a wide range of negative biochemical effects on humans and domestic animals.
The genera Aspergillus, Fusarium, Alternaria, Claviceps, Stachybotrys and Penicillium are the major mycotoxin-producing moulds.
The contamination of human foodstuffs and animal feed is a rapidly growing problem world-wide due to invasion by field and storage fungi of such species.
The target crops for this infection are ubiquitous and include many staples of the human diet such as wheat and other cereals (and, therefore, grain alcohols), potatoes, plantain, bananas (particularly with crown rot), beans, dried fruits, nuts, and beverages like chocolate, coffee, juices, wine, and even drinking water.
Common sugar crops such as sugar cane and beets are also not immune.
In addition, there is potential for indirect human exposure transmitted via animal fodder through meat, eggs, and dairy products.
Mycotoxins can be carcinogenic (aflatoxin B1, ochratoxin A, fumonisin B), estrogenic (zearalenone and I and J zearalenols), neurotoxic (fumonisin B1), nephrotoxic (ochratoxins, citrinin, oosporeine), dermonecrotic (trichothecenes) or immunosuppressive (aflatoxin B1, ochratoxin A, and T-2 toxin). Some of the diseases associated with them include liver cancer, reproductive pathologies, renal failure, chronic gastrointestinal irritation and esophageal cancer.
Chronic fungal, viral, and bacterial infection of healthy human cells can result in an elevated rate of apoptosis (programmed cell death) which is increasingly viewed as a major mechanism of carcinogenesis.
Certain mycotoxins, like aflatoxins, can also cause necrosis in specific target organs associated with tumours.
Honey is commonly collected from a large variety of sources including trees, flowering shrubs, and crops some of which are resistant to these moulds and their metabolites such as acacia, eucalyptus, and manuka.
Moreover, honey can play a bifidogenic role in detoxifying mycotoxins and decrease their detrimental effects including tissue necrosis.
Bee propolis, which contains caffeic acid phenyl esters with anti-proliferative activity towards cancer cells, may also serve a role in mycotoxin detoxification and, therefore, in protecting against mycotoxin-induced carcinogenesis.
Thus, further research would be useful in determining the relationship between honey bee products, mycotoxin detoxification, and their possible preventive role.
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