Assessment of urinary biomarkers of mycotoxin exposure in adults from Cameroon
Background In Cameroon dietary staples are contaminated with diverse toxic fungal metabolites, known as mycotoxins. Aflatoxins and fumonisins are of particular public health concern, particularly in relation to cancer and/or early life stunting. Mixtures of these toxins are predicted from food measures, and in this work, the levels and frequencies of urinary mycotoxin biomarkers are reported in Cameroonian adults. Methods A single first void urine sample was collected from 89 adults (aged
... 28–85, male 39, female 50) from the city of Yaoundé, Centre Region, Cameroon. Urines were tested for eight distinct mycotoxins using measures of both parent compounds and/or their metabolites by Liquid Chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Results Altogether seven distinct mycotoxins, aflatoxin, fumonisin, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, nivalenol, ochratoxin A and citrinin, (or their metabolites) were observed in urine samples. At least one mycotoxin was detected in all of the urine samples, 87 (97.8%) of which were above the method's quantification limit. Aflatoxin M1 was detected in 42% (n.d. − 0.21 µg L− 1) of samples of which about a quarter additionally contained fumonisin B1. Of the remaining toxins deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, ochratoxin A, nivalenol and citrinin were present in 78%, 99% 95%, 53%, and 87% of the samples respectively. Alternariol was not detected in any sample. Mixtures of mycotoxins in the samples were frequently observed with 64 samples (72%) containing more than five mycotoxins. Estimates of intake exceeded the TDIs for fumonisin (n = 4), deoxynivalenol (n = 1) and zearalenone (n = 2), no TDI is set for aflatoxin. Conclusions This study reveals frequent co-exposure of Cameroonian individuals to a complex mixture of toxic and carcinogenic mycotoxins, with mixtures of aflatoxin and fumonisin a particular priority from a public health standpoint.