The intestinal tract represents the first barrier to ingested chemicals or food contaminants and is also the first
line of defense against intestinal infection. Because of their location, intestinal epithelial cells could be exposed to high
doses of food contaminants. Among natural food contaminants, mycotoxins are regarded as an important risk factor for
human and animal health as up to 25% of the world's crop production may be contaminated. The Fusarium genus
produces high quantities of toxins (fusariotoxins) in temperate northern countries (North America, Europe or Asia) and
the trichothecenes are the most prevalent toxin detected. An increasing number of studies suggest that intestinal epithelial
cells are important targets for mycotoxins and in humans, various adverse digestive symptoms are observed on acute
exposure. In animals, trichothecenes induce pathological lesions, including necrosis of the intestinal epithelium. They
affect the integrity of intestinal epithelium through alterations in the barrier function, cell morphology and differentiation.
Moreover these toxins modulate the activity of intestinal epithelium in its role in immune responsiveness. They affect the
cytokine production by intestinal or immune cells and are supposed to interfere with the cross-talk between epithelial cells
and other intestinal immune cells. This review summarizes our current knowledge of the effects of a class of mycotoxins,
the trichothecenes, on the intestine.
Keywords: Barrier-function, food-contaminant, immune response, intestinal lesions, intestine, mycotoxins, Trichothecene Exposure, epithelial cells, barrier function, Fusarium genus, fusariotoxins
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