May, 16
2012

Neurotoxins From Molds Can Damage Nerve Cells

luke-curtis Earlier studies have reported that heavy indoor exposure to molds (fungi) such as Stachybotrys can cause asthma, bleeding disorders (hemorrhage) and many neurological problems such as  headaches, chronic fatigue and problems in balance, concentration and memory (see Kilburn- Toxicology and Industrial Health Oct-Nov 2009;25(9-10):681-92). Growth of Stachybotrys and other molds are particularly bad in homes with flooding, pipe leaks and other water problems.

Molds produce many different kinds of toxins called mycotoxins. One bad mycotoxin produced by Stachybotrys is called Satratoxin.  A Texas study reported on the effects of adding tiny amounts of Satratoxin H to cultures of human nerve cells (which included brain capillary cells, astrocytes and neuronal progenitor cells).  Satratoxin levels used were as low as 1 to 10 parts per billion in the solutions containing the human nerve cells.  These concentrations are similar to levels found in the blood of humans exposed to heavy indoor growth of Stachybotrys.

Compared to unexposed cells, the human nerve cells exposed to low concentrations of satratoxin had significantly higher rates of cell death, cell inflammation and cell oxidative damage.  This study suggests that long term human exposure to low levels of satratoxin can cause damage to many types of nerve cells all over the brain, spinal cord and smaller nerves.

This research by Karunasena et al. is now in press in Mycopathologica.

In addition to Satratoxin, Stachybotrys produces a number of other toxic mycotoxins, including  stachylysin- a mycotoxin which causes excessive bleeding (hemorrhage) in lungs and blood vessels.  Such Stachybotrys related hemorrhage can cause life-threatening lung bleeding in infants less than one yeat old.