The fungus Stachybotrys chartarum has been implicated in cases of nonspecific indoor air quality complaints in adults and in cases of pulmonary hemorrhaging in infants. The effects that have been described have been attributed to mycotoxins. Previous dose-effect studies focused on exposure to a single mycotoxin in a solvent, a strategy which is unlikely to accurately characterize the effects of inhaled spores. In this study we examined the role of mycotoxins in the pulmonary effects caused by S. chartarum spores and the dose dependency of these effects. S. chartarum spores were extracted in methanol to reduce the mycotoxin content of the spores. Then either untreated (toxin-containing) or methanol-extracted S. chartarum spores were intratracheally instilled into male 10-week-old Charles River-Dawley rats. After 24 h, the lungs were lavaged, and the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid was analyzed to determine differences in lactic dehydrogenase, albumin, hemoglobin, myeloperoxidase, and leukocyte differential counts. Weight change was also monitored. Our data show that methanol extraction dramatically reduced the toxicity of S. chartarum spores. No statistically significant effects were observed in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluids of the animals that were treated with methanol-extracted spores at any dose. Conversely, dose-dependent effects of the toxin-containing spores were observed when we examined the lactic dehydrogenase, albumin, and hemoglobin concentrations, the polymorphonuclear leukocyte counts, and weight loss. Our findings show that a single, intense exposure to toxin-containing S. chartarum spores results in pulmonary inflammation and injury in a dose-dependent manner. Importantly, the effects are related to methanol-soluble toxins in the spores.
Mycotoxins; Air quality; Exposure levels; Pulmonary system disorders; Toxic effects; Laboratory animals; Animals; Animal studies; Respiratory system disorders; Microorganisms; Indoor air pollution; Indoor environmental quality
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