Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fungus-induced neurological disease: An underestimated risk for animals and humans?

Date:
December 15, 2011
Source:
Norwegian School of Veterinary Science
Summary:
The mold fungus Penicillium crustosum occurs relatively frequently in food and animal fodder stored in temperate conditions. This mold produces powerful neurotoxins, for example penitrem A, which causes symptoms that are difficult to distinguish from those of other neurological diseases. Penitrem A is capable of penetrating the blood-brain barrier and new research has unveiled the mechanisms behind the neurological effects of the toxin.

Pyramidal cells (pyramidal neuron) from motory cortex in a rat's brain.
Credit: Image courtesy of Norwegian School of Veterinary Science

The mould fungus Penicillium crustosum occurs relatively frequently in food and animal fodder stored in temperate conditions. This mould produces powerful neurotoxins, for example penitrem A, which causes symptoms that are difficult to distinguish from those of other neurological diseases. Angel Moldes-Anaya's doctoral research has shown that penitrem A is capable of penetrating the blood-brain barrier and has unveiled the mechanisms behind the neurological effects of the toxin.

Earlier studies have shown that Penicillium mould often occurs in food and fodder stored in temperate conditions. In Norway, there have been examples of waste food considerably contaminated with Penicillium crustosum. This mould produces penitrems which can have serious toxic effects on the nervous system.

Little is known about how these substances affect the body, especially the brain. Even though there are documented cases of penitrem-induced neurological diseases in both humans and animals, diseases of this kind are probably underdiagnosed. This is because the observable symptoms can be mistaken for those of other neurological diseases, methods of analysis are poor and toxicological and pharmacological expertise is unavailable.

During recent years, more than 10 cases of dogs with attacks resembling epilepsy and impaired motor function have been reported at The Norwegian Veterinary Institute. The common denominator was that all the dogs had eaten food or food waste contaminated with the mould fungus Penicillium crustosum. Angel Moldes used chemical and mycological samples from these dogs in his doctoral project, which has studied the effect of penitrem A on the brain and what happens to the toxin in the body.

Angel Moldes has revealed that penitrem A can penetrate the protective blood-brain barrier and therefore reach the brain itself. Furthermore, he has shown that penitrem A is converted in the liver into more water-soluble metabolites which are easier to excrete from the body. These metabolites do not reach the brain and it is therefore probable that penitrem A is solely responsible for the toxic effect.

Moldes has also studied the mechanism underlying the neurological symptoms observed in both dogs and laboratory animals exposed to the toxin. He found that penitrem A has a substantial effect on GABAA receptors in the brain. GABAA receptors are the major therapeutic target of tranquilisers (diazepam) and anesthetics (barbiturates). Penitrem A may have a tranquilising effect on one part of the brain and a cramp-inducing effect on other parts. Moldes has revealed that oxidative stress can be related to the pathological changes found in animals exposed to penitrems, since these toxins increase the production of free radicals that can damage tissue.

Moldes has moreover isolated and determined the structure of a new substance similar to a penitrem which he detected in a biopsy from one of the affected dogs.

M.Tech. Angel Moldes-Anaya defended his doctoral thesis on 8th December 201 at The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. The thesis is entitled: "Penitrem-induced neurological disease in Norway: clinical cases in dogs. Neuropharmacology and toxicokinetics of penitrem A. Structure elucidation of a novel penitrem analogue."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. "Fungus-induced neurological disease: An underestimated risk for animals and humans?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111215094811.htm>.
Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. (2011, December 15). Fungus-induced neurological disease: An underestimated risk for animals and humans?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111215094811.htm
Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. "Fungus-induced neurological disease: An underestimated risk for animals and humans?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111215094811.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins